Gridiron Classic brings bitter rivals together
One of the things I like best about the U.S. Army All Shore Gridiron Classic is the coming together of players who only months before were bitter rivals.
Take for example Jackson Memorial and Brick, who split a pair of games last fall. The Green Dragons won a regular season meeting in early October which would lead them to the Class A South title but 7 weeks later the Jaguars got their revenge with a rousing state playoff victory on their way to an NJSIAA championship.Having broadcast both games last season I can tell you there was no love lost between the teams on the field.
However this week the Jaguars and Green Dragons were on the same side as teammates for the Ocean County All Stars and that bitterness that existed before was long gone. Those same sentiments could be found all over during All Shore Classic week and it culminated last night with Ocean County posting a convincing 27-7 victory over Monmouth County at Long Branch High School, it’s largest margin of victory in the 38-year history of the game which is sponsored by the Shore Football Coaches Foundation.
The guys from the south wasted little time in taking control as their first drive ended in a touchdown pass from Brick’s Carmen Sclafani to Jackson’s Matt Castronouva. It was one of two touchdown grabs for Castronouva who was the Ocean County Offensive MVP. He is headed to Monmouth University to play football while Sclafani is Rutgers bound where he will play baseball.
All three Ocean quarterbacks threw touchdown passes with Jackson’s Joe DeMaio hooking up with Brick Memorial’s Karl Kumm on a 45-yard scoring play in the 3rd quarter before Lacey’s Conor Davies hit Castronouva with a 42-year bomb later in the quarter. Kumm, who is headed to Carnegie Mellon had quite a night as he added a pair of field goals and received one of two Sam Mills Awards with the other going to running back Dahmiere Willis of Long Branch.
Toms River South’s Joe Odebode led a strong defensive effort and was named the defensive MVP for the Ocean County squad…pretty impressive when you consider he was only added to the roster the night before practice began. Monmouth County MVP’s were Princeton bound running back Charlie Volker of Rumson and Holmdel linebacker Frank Condito.
The win was the second straight for Ocean County, who trails in the all-time series 20-17 with one tie. On a perfect summer evening it was a great way to end the 2014 season…or was it the first game of the 2015 season? Officially that one is just 7 weeks away.