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GEFA Offers Semipro Football League for Local Adults

by and on June 19, 2017 5:00 AM

For most college football players, that last game of their final year of eligibility is the last time they ever play organized football. Tens of thousands of high school players realize this fact following the final games of their senior years.

There are also many professional players who have fallen from “elite” status, but feel they have what it takes to play the sport they love.

Fortunately, for local players, there is an option available.

The Great Eastern Football Association is an eight-on-eight semiprofessional league with 18 teams across two divisions around Pennsylvania. Locally, two teams play in the league. The State College Flash has played in the league for nearly five years, while the Moshannon Valley Vikings are at the end of their second.

The league was first started in 2005. For the first year, the league only had two teams — the North Penn Energy and the Susquehanna Valley Stallions. Each year, the league has added more and more teams as the league builds popularity.

Chris Nagle, owner and head coach of the State College Flash, played in the league for five seasons before retiring and deciding to buy a team of his own. The team has been successful with Nagle at the helm, having won the Mountain Division in the past. The Flash just missed the playoffs this season and ended the campaign with a 4-6 record.

“It’s legit,” said Nagle. “When you have former pros playing, you get to see all the big hits of a pro game. That’s what makes football so exciting.”

Behind owner and head coach Thor Marlow, the Vikings went from a 2-8 record in the inaugural 2016 season to the playoffs with a 6-4 record this season. Despite the big step in the right direction, the Vikings fell in the first round of the playoffs to the Cumberland Valley Hitmen to end the season.

REGULAR SEASON

The league’s regular season starts on the third Saturday in March each year. Each team plays 10 regular season games, with the top four teams in each division making the playoffs. At the beginning of June, the regular season ends and is followed by two weeks of playoffs, a bye week all-star game and, finally, the championship.

The GEFA runs a modified version of the high school football rule book and plays on a 30-by-50- yard field with 10- yard end zones on each side. With the smaller field, most teams end up never kicking field goals or extra points, leading to very energetic and hard-fought games. 

ELIGIBILITY

Each team can sign up to 40 players a season. Players are usually 18 and older, though 16- and 17-year-olds are allowed to play with parents’ permission. Players of all skill sets and ages play for teams in the GEFA, from breakout high-school stars to former college players to retired pro football players. 

MOVING FORWARD

The GEFA also is continuing to add to its ability to communicate with fans. So far, each team uploads videos of their games to the league’s YouTube channel and keep stats that are put on the league’s website. Some of the teams that have been around for many years broadcast their games on the radio or even on local television channels. Most teams play in front of 100-plus fans, with some teams bringing in as many as 500 per game.

Nagle continues to try to improve his team and the league in any way he can to boost experience for the players and the fans.

“I just love helping former athletes continue to enjoy the sport they love and younger athletes to hone their skills and move up in the sport,” said Nagle. “Just like any team you form a bond, like a family. You go out to battle with each other like one big family, getting to spend time doing what you love with others who have the same interests.”

Athletes who are interested in trying out for the State College Flash or the Moshannon Valley Vikings should message teams' Facebook pages. Fans also can follow the Facebook pages for team updates and to purchase merchandise.

For more information, visit www.gefafootball.com.



This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.



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