Gridiron Classic – After Helping Central to Best Seasons in 20 Years, Miserendino and Vaughn Look to Go Out Winners on Home Field
Mike Miserendino and Malcolm Vaughn were part of a group that brought Central to heights not previously reached in 20 years, and on Thursday they’ll also do something no Golden Eagles player has done when Central’s Joseph J. Boyd Memorial Field hosts the U.S. Army All-Shore Gridiron Classic for the first time.
Miserendino and Vaughn will represent Central on Ocean County’s squad for the 39th edition of New Jersey’s oldest high school football all-star game when Ocean County and Monmouth County meet once again at 7 p.m on Thursday. After what they helped Central accomplish during their careers, running out onto their home field one final time will be a special moment for both.
“That’s definitely going to be an emotional night,” Miserendino said. “It’s going to be a night to remember.”
Before the senior class that included Miserendino, a standout two-way player as Central’s quarterback and as a defensive back, and Vaughn, a speedy wide receiver, the Golden Eagles had not had a winning season since 2001. Central also had not won a playoff game or a division title since 1994. All three of those long draughts were wiped off the board as the Eagles went 19-12 over the past three seasons.
After going 5-5 in 2013, Central turned in the program’s best season since 1994 by going 8-3 and claiming a share of the Class B South division title. In the South Jersey Group III playoffs, the Eagles defeated Oakcrest, 28-14, for their first postseason win in 20 years. Last season Central finished 6-4 to give the program consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 1998 and 1999 while also making the playoffs again.
“It was great all we accomplished,” Miserendino said. “You look at our past and we usually weren’t the best team, so to turn it around means a lot. I can look back when I’m older and tell my kids I was part of a team that won B South, and I even get to play my last high school game at my field.”
“It was really fun and I’m going to miss it,” Vaughn said. “It was a great run for us.”
Miserendino, Vaughn and rising senior running Mike Bickford were the core of an offensive skill players that keyed the turnaround for Central. As a sophomore, Bickford ran for a school-record 2,052 yards to become the first Shore Conference sophomore to rush for 2,000 yards.
As a junior, Miserendino threw for 780 yards and eight touchdowns while also running for 693 yards and seven touchdowns while also making 66 tackles on defense. This past season he threw for 1,063 yards and eight touchdowns and ran for 672 yards and eight touchdowns. He again made over 60 tackles on defense and was an All-Class B South selection by the coaches.
This past season Vaughn caught 35 passes for 468 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 13.4 yards per reception. Vaughn said he’ll be playing mostly cornerback in the Gridiron Classic, but might plead for a chance to catch a deep ball or two from Miserendino.
“I might have to do that,” Vaughn said.
In a career that produced several memorable moments, Vaughn said he looks back fondly at the 2015 Week Zero game against Southern where Central pulled out a 27-20 overtime victory. Vaughn hauled in a 64-yard touchdown pass from Miserendino late in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 20.
Miserendino recalls a 2014 game against Barnegat in Week Two where the Eagles upended the division-favorite Bengals, 21-15, for a huge win en route to winning the B South title.
Now they’ll try to make some final and lasting memories on the turf at Boyd Field and continue to represent Central in a successful manner.
“It’s a huge honor to play in this game and literally everything I’ve worked for since I was a kid playing football,” Miserendino said. “It’s my last high school game and it’s definitely going to be memorable.”
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