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PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y.- Safety David Lopez (Ozone Park, NY / Christ the King) and linebackersVincent Romano (Davenport, NY / Oneonta) and Gerald Ford (Bronx, NY / Don Bosco Prep/Iona College) have been picked to participate in the 2012 National Bowl in Allentown, PA on December 9. Ford, Lopez and Romano will share the field with only the best college All-American and All-Conference Seniors from Division II and III schools and will get to play alongside standout professional players, which is presented by East Preps.
The National Bowl Game is an invite only college football all star game where 80 of the best college seniors from around the country are confirmed for this years game. Players are confirmed from schools such as Eastern Oregon, Texas A&M - Commerce, Seton Hill, and Albright. This year NFL Legendary Coach Mike Stock formerly of the Green Bay Packers is set to coach the "Red Nation" team as Coach Chris Thompson and his Lehigh Valley Steelhawks staff coaching staff will coach the "Blue Nation" Team. Sponsors include Susquehanna Bank, Optimum Scouting, Hokey A.A., Madness Training, F.A.S.S.T Performance, Team Swoll, and the Ramada Inn-Allentown.Canadian Football League (CFL), Arena Football League (AFL), United Football League (UFL), and indoor football scouts were in attendance last year and are set for this years game and several NFL teams request rosters, player info, and game & practice film. The National Bowl Game is also played for a good cause as a portion of proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Tommy Foundation to help its fight against Autism and a Zumba performance & dance to fight childhood obesity will take place at halftime for fans of all ages to join in.
Pace football alum Tyrell Zimmerman and brother Duval Zimmerman were both picked to play in the 2009 National Bowl which provided them with a greater opportunity to be seen and scouted. Tyrell currently played for the Tulsa Talons in the American Football League (AFL) while Duval is with the Laredo Rattlesnakes in the Indoor Football League (IFL).
Two other notables, of a long list that were discovered at the National Bowl are Kevin Doty who had a stint with the New York Giants that came out of Lafayette FCS, and free agent Walter Sanders, who saw a year with the Baltimore Ravens, that came out of Division II St. Augustine.
"There is a lot of upside playing in this game," Lopez said. "It could potentially put me at another level of play depending on how well I do so it's exciting. It's the best of the best now."
Lopez, a Pre-Season All-American finished off the season earning the MVP title in the Homecoming game as he recorded 16 tackles, nine of them solo. He will also be participating in the DII vs. NAIA All-Star game the weekend after the National Bowl as well as the USA Freedom Bowl in January. Lopez led the NE-10 Conference in tackles per game, averaging 11.3 for a total of 102 on the season. He totaled 48 assisted tackles, 54 solo, a fumble recovery, a break-up and an interception this past season.
Romano finished 4th in the conference in tackles per game with 9.8. He totaled 88 tackles on the season, 58 assisted, 30 solo, six tackles for a loss of 24 total yards, two fumble recoveries, one break-up and one block.
Ford, a transfer from Iona, played in nine games for the Setters where he totaled 36 tackles, 17 solo and 19 assisted. He recorded two sacks, three tackles for a total loss of 16 yards as well as a forced fumble and break-up. He was an All-MAC student athlete and achieved multiple MAC Player of the Week's at Iona.
"After the program got canceled at Iona, I had finished my degree and I thought my football career was over," Ford said. "Last year, I decided life was miserable without football and I needed the regime that comes along with it. I called Coach Dapolito about coming to Pace to play. I was excited with the opportunity."
"Through that opportunity, brought this. I'm really excited because I had just expressed my interest in continuing football after college to Coach Dapolito, said Ford. I think it's a step in the direction I want to go in and a tool that I need. All of my Iona film is essentially nonexistent. I have the opportunity to prove that I'm an elite linebacker and that I'm very good at my position. The National Bowl is a tool, like the pro-days and combines, where I can get out there and showcase my hard work."
Ford, with a deep history at the linebacker position, stepped up for the Pace football program and played defensive end for the Setters this year. He will go back to his natural position of linebacker for the National Bowl game.
In preparation, Lopez will take a week off to heal and then get back into training. Romano is training at Extreme Fitness in Thornwood 3-4 times a week, as well as with Mike Bohlander, the Pace Strength and Conditioning Coach.
"I'm so blessed to have an opportunity to show that with hard work and determination you can change your life for the better," said Romano. "It's really surreal to have the opportunity to play against other athletes that are good players on their respective teams. From the shear competition stand point, I'm ready to bring my A-game."
"It's every player's goal to get a look," Romano said. "We don't always have that opportunity in DII to be in the presence of big-time scouts. We didn't have a lot of wins but I know the work that I put into the team and football and hopefully I can showcase that and impress somebody out there. I'm just looking for an opportunity to get better and showcase my talents."
As participants, Ford, Lopez and Romano will partake in a weekend full of activities with the other players and their families at The National Bowl December 7-9. The game is scheduled for 1 pm Sunday, December 9 on the turf field at the J. Birney Crum Stadium in Allentown, PA. Information is included below if you would like to go support Ford, Lopez and Romano as they represent the Setters.