"It's always been a huge thing in my life to play in it, especially after [Mark] did," Brandon said. "He told me how he and his friends still talk about it and that I should want to play in it."
In typical little brother fashion, Brandon listened. He worked tirelessly in the weight room and perfected his technique to become one of the state's best linemen, earning a scholarship to Rutgers in the process.
In January, along with 33 others, he was rewarded with a spot on the 55th Pennsylvania team in the game's history and tasked with ending a 3-year losing streak to Ohio.
The Classic is a football institution loaded with history. The game's alumni list reads like a Pro Football Hall of Fame ballot, perfectly displayed by the event's de facto slogan: "There has never been a Super Bowl without a Big 33 Alumni."
And on Saturday night, in a unique collision of family and football traditions, Brandon will suit up in the same No. 73 jersey that his brother wore three years ago — the same number 73 that his father, Mark Sr., wore in his days at Father Judge and Temple.
"The tradition in the game is huge," Brandon said. "But also, Mark is such an inspiration to me. I've always wanted to be exactly like him when I grow up."
Upon receiving his jersey, the first thing Brandon did was to shoot his big brother a picture message of himself sporting the Keystone colors. While he loved the enthusiastic text, Mark thinks that it was the aura of the event that deserves most of the credit for inspiring Brandon's determination.
"I think when he was at the game and he saw me play and leading up to it, he got a better understanding of what it is all about," Mark said. "He saw the notoriety that comes with it, the type of honor it is to play in it."
Brandon and Mark are two of four Arcidiacono brothers to compete on the gridiron, with Mark being the oldest.
Gavin played football at Wood from 2006-09, and younger brother Nick, who this year played alongside Brandon on Wood's offensive line, has already piled up nine Division I scholarship offers.
So will soon-to-be senior Nick be the third Arcidiacono to play in the interstate clash?
"I hope so," Brandon said. "If he has a great season this year, I think he has a chance. He is a hardworking kid — he is working on getting stronger. He is going to be great next year."
But for now, this Saturday, 6 months to the day and on the same field that his Vikings captured their coveted state crown, it's Brandon's time to shine. n
Contact Alex Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org