Local Miners hitting gridiron
BY KEVIN WOODRUFF
Three locals from Wyoming and Susquehanna counties are taking the field for the NEPA Miners football team, a Major League Football-based team in Scranton.
Ryan Posten, of Tunkhannock, Ryan Gower, of Factoryville, and Brad Allen, of New Milford, will all a part of Dan LaMagna’s Miners, who are hoping to step it up in their fifth year in the league.
Michael Gommer of Tunkhannock was also set to play for the team this season, but will be out for the year with a torn ACL.
Posten, 26, who plays right guard for the Miners, is in his first year with the team after playing for the arena football Wilkes-Barre Vipers last season.
The 2003 Tunkhannock graduate said that it’s great putting the pads back on and getting out there to play.
“I knew a couple of guys on the Vipers who played for the Miners, so I figured I would sign up,” Posten said. “It’s a little bit different because this team goes by NFL rules.”
Posten said that things are going well, however, in the beginning it was rough getting through the conditioning.
“The conditioning was pretty extreme, much more difficult than I thought it would be,” Posten said. “And being hit for the first few times rang by bell a little bit.”
However, he said that he has found his groove and is looking forward to improving upon the team’s 5-6 record from the 2010 year.
He is also excited about the team signing Austin Scott, a former Penn State running back and Pennsylvania Class AAAA high school football player of the year.
Joining Posten on the team is Ryan Gower, a 2004 Lackawanna Trail graduate, who said this is his first foray into football.
“It’s something I always wanted to do,” Gower said. “I never played football in high school, and I regretted it.”
So given the opportunity to try out for the Miners was something Gower felt he had to do.
Now in his second year, Gower, 25, who now lives in Old Forge, is playing at safety for the Miners and is loving it.
“At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to play offense or defense. But I’m glad I made the choice I did,” Gower said. “It gives me the opportunity to see a lot of playing time. And plus, I’d rather be the person doing that hitting, than the person getting hit.”
When he first got started, the former three-sport Trail athlete in baseball, wrestling and cross country, said he didn’t know what to expect.
“It was definitely more intense than I thought it would be,” Gower said. “And I came home with a lot of bruises at first.”
However, as time went on he got used to the tough physical nature of the sport and enjoys it immensely.
“I missed being involved in a sport,” Gower said. “It’s nice to have that team mentality.”
Also excited about the upcoming year is Brad Allen, 20, of New Milford, a 2010 graduate of Blue Ridge, who is a former member of the Susquehanna Saber football team.
This is Allen’s second year on the Miners and said he is excited about the chance to continue playing football.
He is also more confident with a year on the team under his belt.
After starting out last year and earning his spot on the starting lineup, he made his way to becoming a second-team all-star for the Miners.
Allen sees his time with the Miners as an opportunity to make football a career.
“I’m hoping to get some exposure by playing for the team,” Allen said. “I would love to turn pro somewhere.”
And to increase his chances of doing that, Allen said he has been working hard conditioning, lifting and learning plays to be at the top of his game this year.
Allen said that he loves the family atmosphere of the NEPA Miners.
“It’s like a family,” Allen said. “Everyone on the team is really close.”
The Miners played its first game on Saturday against the Electric City Chargers, and will have their first home game against the Red City Outlaws on Saturday, July 9, at 7 p.m. at Scranton Memorial Stadium.