Home Again: Brick Memorial players ending their careers at home in Gridiron Classic
Every year upwards of 100 players get to conclude their careers with one more game in the All-Shore Gridiron Classic. Only a few, however, get to do so on their home field. Just mentioning the opportunity to make the walk down to DiFabio Field one last time was enough to bring a smile to the faces of Brick Memorial’s players.
“I love playing at that place, it’s really special,” said Mustangs safety Blaine Netterman. “It’s always a great atmosphere and I know it’s going to be packed. Some of my coaches are coaching in the game and all my teammates are going to be there so it’s going to be a great night.”
Netterman will be one of five Brick Memorial players suiting up for the 41st Shore Sports Network All-Shore Gridiron Classic, which kicks off at 7 p.m. on Thursday night at Brick Memorial. He’ll be joined by running back Tony Thorpe, defensive lineman Willie Garner, offensive lineman Joe Castellano and long snapper Billy Mullen. The Mustangs will also have three of their coaches on the Ocean County sideline with head coach Walt Currie and assistants Mike McArthur and Rob Brown.
“I’m really excited about it and glad to be playing side-by-side with my brothers one more time, especially at our home field,” Thorpe said. “I’m definitely ready to get at it and make some big plays and get this W together with my brothers.”
Thorpe was the 2017 Class A South Offensive Player of the Year and a Shore Sports Network second-team All-Shore selection, running for 1,372 yards and 14 touchdowns to lead Brick Memorial to a 7-3 record and a share of the Class A South division title. Thorpe was a three-year starter for the Mustangs and concluded his career as the program’s all-time leading rusher and all-time leading scorer. He will continue his career at Albright College.
Also a second-team All-Shore pick, Netterman was an indispensable two-way player for the Mustangs and endeared himself to the Ocean County coaching staff during the practice week. In his senior season, he made 79 tackles with eight hits for a loss, one interception, two forced fumbles and four pass deflections. He was also a slot back in Brick Memorial’s triple-option offense and ran for 602 yards and eight touchdowns on an average of 10 years per carry and caught six passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns. Netterman will play both football and baseball at Delaware Valley University.
Garner was a Class A South All-Division selection and developed into a staunch defender for the Mustangs. He will continue his career at Lycoming College. Castellano was the leader on an offensive line that paved the way for the Mustangs to average 25.8 points per game, and he too was an A South All-Division pick. He will head to Johnson & Wales University where he will participate in its prestigious culinary arts program. Mullen was Brick Memorial’s long snapper and will serve Ocean County in that capacity. He will continue his career at SUNY Cortland.
Together, the group helped Brick Memorial go 18-14 over the past three years, including two playoff berths and two division championships. When they were sophomores in 2015, the Mustangs went 9-3, finished in a three-way tie for the division crown and advanced to the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV championship game. Following a down year in 2016, the Mustangs rebounded to win seven games, split the division title with Central and reach the playoffs.
Those memories will surely be going through their heads as they make one final long walk from the locker room down to the field.
“I know some guys from the team are coming out and some family, and of course all the other fans from around the Shore in Monmouth and Ocean Counties,” Thorpe said. “I’m excited for the big crowd and ready to go.”
Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.