The countdown to the longest running high school football all-star game in New Jersey has begun.

The annual media day for the Shore Sports Network All-Shore Gridiron Classic took place on Wednesday night at Shore Regional High School as the players from Monmouth and Ocean counties met with their teammates and coaching staffs to start the ball rolling toward Shore Conference football’s midsummer classic.

The 41st All-Shore Gridiron Classic, presented by InVision Eye Care, will take place on Thursday, July 12, at Brick Memorial High School. It will be preceded by the annual Shore Conference 7-on-7 championship game and will include the latest Shore Football Coaches Foundation Hall of Fame members being inducted at halftime.

Monmouth County came away with a 17-8 victory last year and Marlboro’s Cameron Caorsi set a Gridiron Classic record with 168 yards rushing to give Monmouth a 21-18-1 lead in the all-time series.

Manalapan defensive coordinator Dom Lepore is one of the game’s chief organizers and addressed the group of players before Shore Sports Network director Kevin Williams also spoke to the players. The players then split up to meet with their respective coaching staffs. Headshots were taken of each player to be used on and also in the official gameday program.

The players and coaches were also treated to dinner in the form of six-foot subs courtesy of Mulberry Street in Brick.

The Monmouth County all-stars will be led by Long Branch head coach Danny George, who guided the Green Wave to the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 4 state championship this past season. George will be joined by his Long Branch assistants, including defensive coordinator Nick Tranchina, co-offensive coordinators Greg Penta (QBs) and Ben Woolley (OL), Chad King (DB), John Jasio (DL), Val Barnaby (DL), Terry King (RB), Kris Parker (WR), Tony Souza (OL) and John Rickard (TE), plus Ocean coach Jim Simonelli (LB) and former Manchester head coach Doug Covert (QB).

2018 Gridiron Classic media day.
2018 Gridiron Classic media day.

The Ocean County all-stars are headed by Central Regional head coach Justin Fumando, who led the Golden Eagles to a 7-3 record and a share of the Class A South division title. Joining Fumando from Central is Chris James (off. coord./QB), Jarrett Pidgeon (def. coord/ILB), James Plummer (RB), Matt Kiefer (OL), Pat Reilly (TE), Raul Rivera (OLB), Terrance Hardy (special teams/DB) and Dennis Pidgeon (def. assistant). Along with the Golden Eagles’ contingent, Ocean County’s staff has Brick Memorial head coach Walt Currie (inside WR), Point Boro head coach Brian Staub (outside WR) and Brick Memorial assistant and former Colts Neck head coach Mike McArthur (DT).

The Gridiron Classic provides several good stories both leading up the event and during the game itself. For Red Bank Catholic running back Zack Bair, the game will give him a chance to end his career on his terms after missing the final three-plus games with an injury.

“It’s an honor to be able to play in this game and it’s a great feeling to be able to get back on the field,” said Bair, who will continue his career at Dartmouth College. “Before I go off to college it’s going to be great to get back on the field one more time.”

Bair is part of a loaded Monmouth County roster, especially on the offensive side, that will be a major challenge for Ocean County to slow down.

“We have a great roster,” Bair said. “Watching all these great players’ highlights during the season and now getting a chance to play with them, it’s unreal. I can’t wait.”

Point Boro head one the best seasons in program history and will have six players – quarterback James Fara, running backs/linebackers Tanner Gordon and Nate Chiarello, running back Brandon Cipriano and linemen Gabe Fattizzi and Anthony Bonavito – looking to lead Ocean County to victory. This past season the Panthers went 11-1, won their third straight Class B South division title and reached the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 2 championship game.

“It’s really just an honor and a blessing to play another high school game,” Fattizzi said. “I’m very excited, especially coming out here with some of my closest teammates, and it’s amazing I get to play another game with them and on a big stage, too.”

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Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.


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