VASJ gridders to play in All-Star game in Italy

Seven Villa Angela-St. Joseph Viking football players, all seniors, have been chosen to play for the “Stars and Stripes” team that will represent the U.S. in an All-Star game in Rome, Italy, on April 21. On the opposite side of the line of scrimmage will be an Italian All-Star squad—Italy’s national Under-19 team.

Members of the Viking contingent are: tackle John DiDonato, halfback Ryan Gallagher, lineman DiAnte Jackson, linebacker Chris Pokorny, lineman Paul Rini, defensive back Mato Vunak, and center Dan Ward.

In all, the players will spend nine days in Italy, including educational sightseeing activities in Rome, Florence, and the Tuscany region. Accompanying them will be VASJ Head Coach John Storey, who will serve as assistant head coach of the Stars and Stripes team.

            This is the fifth year that VASJ seniors have been given the opportunity to play overseas following the completion of their high school football careers. Twice, they’ve traveled to Japan; this will be the third trip to Europe. The participating players are required to find a way to raise the money to cover their travel expenses.

            “They will be ambassadors for the United States, in a way, representing American high school football,” Coach Storey points out. “Every one of the VASJ players has at least a 3.0 grade point average.” Danny Ward, he notes, has a very impressive 4.7 GPA. Ryan Gallagher recently received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

            Jeff Scurran, a teacher and coach from Arizona, will serve as head coach of the American team. While in Italy, the coaches will conduct football clinics for players from both squads.


John Sheridan

Retired journalist. From 1963 to 1972, wrote for and edited the Euclid News-Journal, predecessor to the Sun-Journal. From 1972 to 2000, I was a writer and editor for Industry Week magazine. Also have worked for the Plain Dealer as a part-time sportswriter, covering high school sports. And I was a contributor to the previous Euclid Observer. I have lived in Euclid for almost my entire life. I am a graduate of St. Joseph High School and John Carroll University.

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Volume 3, Issue 2, Posted 9:38 AM, 03.04.2012