The Beginning of the Gridiron Classic
I honestly don’t remember all that much about the inaugural summer football game between the Monmouth County All-Stars and the Ocean County All-Stars. Sponsored by the Asbury Park Press it was officially named the All-Shore Football Classic and played on Friday, August 18, 1978.
Here’s what I do remember. Seeking a neutral and centrally-located site the game was played at Wall Stadium which of course is used mainly for stock car racing but had hosted football and soccer games in the 50’s and 60’s. However, except for its size and location, it was not an ideal setting for the game….poor lighting, crooked goal posts and a grass field that had its share of lug nuts. However, none of that mattered as it turned out to be a magical night for this first-ever event. More than 8,000 showed up and the game had to be delayed because traffic was backed up on Route 34 as fans tried to get into the parking lot.
What I most remember is that Monmouth head coach Jack Hawkins of Manasquan came dressed in a white tuxedo and top hat and entered the field driven in a 1937 Rolls Royce. Of course, Ocean coach Warren Wolf was not quite as formal although he did not wear his tradition grey suit on the warm summer night. The game itself was really only special for one play and that was a clinching touchdown by Toms River South’s George Scribellito, a defensive lineman who returned a lateral 50 yards for a score in the 4th quarter to secure a 21-7 victory. Ironically Scribellito’s name was not listed in the original game program as there was some question if he was going to play and yet when it was over he was the MVP and would etch himself into the four-decade history of what is now the Shore Sports Network All-Shore Gridiron Classic. Each team had a roster of 36 players, many of whom would be leaving for college just a couple of days later.
Some other notes from that first game. Wolf’s coaching staff included then head coaches Ron Signorino, Al Saner, Ron Emmert and Denny Toddings while Hawkins had accomplished head coaches like Vic Kubu, Chip LaBarca, Gary Chapman and Earl Ownes. Tickets were $2.50 for adults, $1.50 for students and $1.00 for children….the game raised $4,000 for Jaycee chapters in the shore area.
The 41st edition of what is now the Shore Sports Network All-Shore Gridiron Classic will be played tomorrow night at Brick Memorial High School.