WEST LONG BRANCH - Frank Condito was a standout player for his Holmdel High School football team from the time he was a freshman and a 1,000-yard back by the time he was a sophomore.

According to his coach for this Thursday’s U.S. Army All-Shore Gridiron Classic, Condito will once again be a standout while playing for the Monmouth County All-Stars but he will try to do something he would like to have done much more of while at Holmdel: win.

The Gridiron Classic is an annual chance for players and spectators from around the Shore to get a closer look at some of the under-the-radar talent from around the area and Condito fits the description, according to Shore Regional head coach Mark Costantino, Monmouth County’s head coach on Thursday night at Long Branch High School.

“We played against him a while back and he’s super tough,” Costantino said of Condito. “He’s going to play both sides, he’s probably one of the starting middle linebackers and he’s going to play fullback as well. He’s a special player and a special kid, so he’s a huge part of this team.”

Holmdel linebacker Frank Condito will show his skills on both sides of the ball at Thursday's U.S. Army All-Shore Gridiron Classic. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Condito’s breakout sophomore season included a 1,000-yard rushing campaign, but an injury-plagued junior season and a combination of a lingering knee injury and a new coaching staff presented a challenge to the four-year letter-winner as a senior this past fall.

“I was varsity for four years so a lot of the guys would listen to me because we had different coaches, and that was hard,” Condito said. “They’d change the offense and the defense up every week and it was just hard to get around that. That’s what kind of screwed us up this year because we had an easier schedule and should have won more games, but having new coaches, we had to get used to them and used to changing the offense every once in a while.”

Despite missing two games during a 2-8 Holmdel season and wearing a brace on his leg during most of the year, Condito still managed to record his first 100-tackle season as a senior this past fall. It was a strong individual bounce-back for Condito after he missed nearly half of his junior season with an ankle injury and still managed to record 58 tackles from his middle linebacker spot.

Holmdel posted a 10-30 record in the four years Condito spent in the program, and not only is Condito hoping to go out with a win in his last game, but he also enjoying the process of a team that is practicing and carrying itself like it expects to win.

“It’s definitely different,” Condito said. “I’m not saying guys on my team didn’t want to win but here, every single player wants to win this game and strive to be the best they can every day. So it’s really fun.”

“I told the guys, ‘I expect my teams to win every time they take the field and I expect the same of them in this game,’” Costantino said. “I have goals for this game like they have goals for this game and together, we’re going to try to reach those goals. It’s good for them to be around that and to see what we’re doing and in a positive environment.”

Senior running back/linebacker Frank Condito (44) was a four-year starter for Holmdel. (Photo by Bill Normile)

With the best senior standouts from Monmouth County surrounding him and the top players from Ocean County attempting to go through, around and over him, Condito will man the middle of the field as a linebacker one more time in a high school setting when he suits up at Long Branch Thursday night. When he is not stopping a running attack, Condito will be contributing to a potentially dominant one as a fullback for a stable of dynamic tailbacks in the Monmouth County backfield.

While his coach has a good idea about how he wants to employ him, Condito is still out to prove to his coaches and teammates that he belongs even before kickoff on Thursday.

“It’s been different because I have to prove I can win a spot again and hopefully I can show the coaches and these guys out here what I can do over the next couple days,” said Condito, who will take that same mentality to Kean University in August, when he competes for a spot at linebacker on his college team. “If I don’t, it’s because these kids out here are just as good as me or better.”

After spending his senior season with a new coaching staff, learning a new system is old hat for Condito and that has made it easy for him to fit into offensive and defensive plans that will be installed with only five days of practice.

“It is a little bit easier every year because you’re so used to it,” Condito said of picking up a system in a short amount of time. “”Coach Cos has done a great job at Shore Regional and whatever plays he calls are usually going to work because we’re going to have guys who want to make them work, and by the end of the week, we should all know how to make them work.

“It’s simple stuff that makes the difference between winning and losing – the little things, I guess you could say. I think it’s easier on this team because everyone wants to work on it.”