By Kenneth Bradley - Shore Sports Network contributor

LONG BRANCH - As Ocean County rolled to a 27-7 victory over Monmouth in Thursday night's U.S. Army All-Shore Gridiron Classic, Brick Memorial wide receiver/kicker Karl Kumm wide receiver/kicker highlighted a memorable night when he was selected to receive the prestigious Sam Mills Award for his county.

The award is named after the late Long Branch great, who went on to fame as an All-Pro linebacker with the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers in the late 1980s and early 1990s after starring at Montclair State. Mills died of cancer in 2005. The award is selected by the coaches for a player who shows the perseverance, character and determination that defined Mills' life and career.

The Monmouth County recipient was from Mills' alma mater as record-setting running back Dahmiere Willis of Long Branch was given the honor.

Brick Memorial's Karl Kumm drills a 43-yard field goal as part of a big game during Ocean County's 27-7 win over Monmouth County. (Photo by Ray Richardson)
Brick Memorial's Karl Kumm drills a 43-yard field goal as part of a big game during Ocean County's 27-7 win over Monmouth County. (Photo by Ray Richardson)

“The first mention I heard of Sam Mills was on the sidelines tonight, the impact he had on football and the role model he was in the Shore Conference by playing in the NFL,'' Kumm said. "Just knowing I am given an award in his honor is tremendous to me.”

Kumm took on multiple responsibilities throughout the night as he performed kickoffs, extra points and was a key target in Ocean’s deep passing attack.

For the night, Kumm was a perfect 3-for-3 on extra points, made both field goal attempts from 43 and 25 yards, and had two receptions for 53 yards and one touchdown.

Going into an all-star game such as the Gridiron Classic in an area with rich football history and heated rivalries, the question of how the former rivals will play together is always talked about.

“The first day you go into a different locker room and there is a chill in the air,'' Kumm said. "You see your rivals across the room from you changing, and now you realize you’re on the same team.''

After playing against each other for four years during high school, the players put any differences aside to play one final game and lead Ocean County to its biggest margin of victory in the 38th edition of the state's oldest football all-star game.

“Now with these guys being on my team, you see their ability,'' Kumm said. "In the end we all became great friends, and overall it is an awesome experience.”

Kumm, who will continue his career at Carnegie Mellon, did not start playing football until he got to high school. After being born in Estonia, Kumm moved to the United States at a young age and he grew up playing soccer.

“I joined football my freshman year, and I just wanted to make a name for myself,'' he said. "My mom brought me here with a suitcase and $100, so everything I do is in her honor."

With a strong performance tonight to cap off a memorable high school career, Kumm definitely made his mother and family proud.

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