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Devil of a time
June 18, 2009

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JOHNSTOWN - The weight room at Central Cambria High School might feel like a crowded place this time of year.

Especially since a uniquely large handful of former Red Devils will have the opportunity to play college football this fall.

Some will remain teammates as they go off to college, while others will become rivals.

Saturday, though, Ben Ridgeley will cap off his high school career and suit up with a pair of former teammates one last time in the Ken Lantzy Finest 40 All-Star Classic at Greater Johnstown High School.

"It's a real big honor considering the athletes from this area that have played in this game and that have gone on to play at the next level," Ridgeley said. "It's a real honor to play in the Ken Lantzy game just for what the game represents and how the game was started."

The Robert Morris recruit joins fellow Red Devils Mitch Kudlawiec and Andrew O'Saben as members of the North all-star team.

And they even get to be led by the coach that guided them to consecutive district championship games in their final two seasons in high school.

"It's my last opportunity to serve in a coaching capacity for them," said Central Cambria coach Ken Bussard, who will also serve as head coach for the North all-stars. "All three of the kids are going to be going on to other programs and experiencing football at a different level than high school football. It's been a neat experience."

As if being a part of the game wasn't big enough for Ridgeley, his father, Joe, will grace the sideline as an assistant to Bussard, just as he's done for many years at Central Cambria.

"That's what makes it - on top of it being a special week for me coaching-wise, having Ben on the team doubles that. It will be the last time Ben and I will be on the field [together]," Joe Ridgeley said. "To me, it's a neat thing. It really is. I'm very proud of him and what he's accomplished, so it's going to be a very good time for me."

The potential father-son connection had much to do with Bussard's coaching selection.

"It was an opportunity for Joe to coach his son one last time," he said. "It's kind of a special relationship.

"I've known Joe - we've been friends for years. Ben is just a quality young man. Not only is he an outstanding athlete and was a positive contributor and a leader on his team, he's a very intelligent kid."

As for the teammates, they might not get to see each other play for a while.

Both Kudlawiec and O'Saben committed to Slippery Rock and won't play against Ben Ridgeley in the fall, but there are a few familiar faces that he will see when Northeast Conference action begins in September.

Several Central Cambria grads have signed to play for St. Francis.

"We're lifting in the weight room together right now, and it's kinda like 'outwork the other team, outwork the other team.'" Ridgeley said. "I'm lifting with guys that are in the same conference, so it's kinda different.

"Obviously everyone's workouts are a little bit different. We'll rag on each other depending on what we're doing that day."

It won't be long until they are ragging each other as members of opposite teams on the same field.

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