The Shore’s Elite Eight
A current and retired baseball star, three former NFL standouts, two legendary football coaches and an epic female athlete remain in contention for the title as the Shore Sports Network’s Greatest Sports Personality of the past 50 years. The original field of 64 is down to just 8 and while there were some surprises the top seeds in each of the four brackets advanced.
Todd Frazier, Al Leiter, Christie Pearce Rampone and Warren Wolf continued their dominance and certainly have lived up to their billing as #1 seeds in the four brackets. However, all face rather interesting matchups in the next round of voting which continues through Monday, April 2.
Frazer, the Mets third baseman and former Toms River little league and high school star and Home Run Derby champ faces the late Vic Kubu whose 32 year football coaching career include 10 state titles in 22 years at Manasquan where he remains a beloved figure.
Leiter, a high school legend at Central Regional, spent 18 seasons as a major league pitcher where he won three World Series titles and threw a no-hitter and is now a popular analyst. His next opponent will be Long Branch’s Sam Mills who had an outstanding 14 year playing career in the NFL before becoming an assistant coach. Mills lost his life to cancer in 2005.
Pearce Rampone just might be the greatest female athlete the shore has ever produced as she was a four-sport star at Point Boro before playing soccer, basketball and lacrosse at Monmouth University. She would go on to be a cornerstone player for the U.S. National team, winning three Olympic gold medals and two World Cup titles. She now faces Knowshon Moreno, a record-breaking running back at Middletown South and the University of Georgia whose six-year NFL career ended early because of injury.
Wolf, an iconic football coach at Brick Township High School from 1958-2008 where he won six state titles and retired as the winningest coach in state history has coasted in the first three rounds but will likely get a test from Phil Villapiano, who graduated from Ocean Township High School. He spent 13 years in the NFL including nine with the Oakland Raiders where he won a Super Bowl and was a four-time Pro Bowl selection. Villapiano, a candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame through the Senior Committee has clearly received big support from “Raider Nation” in the voting to this point.
Thanks to Sonny’s Recycling of Waretown for sponsoring this program and Ocean Trophies of Lanoka Harbor for providing a unique award for the winner.
Vote for every matchup now. Voting is capped at once per hour per IP address.
Take a closer look at the Sweet Sixteen:
Todd Frazier: Little League World Series champion, multiple-time all-state selection at Toms River South/Rutgers University standout/MLB all-star and Home Run Derby champion currently playing for the New York Mets.
Al Leiter: A standout at Central Regional who had an 18-year MLB career and was a three-time World Series champion.
Christie Pearce Rampone: A three-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time World Cup champion as a member of the U.S. women’s soccer team, Rampone was a four-sport standout in soccer, basketball, field hockey and track at Point Boro and three-sport star in soccer, basketball and lacrosse at Monmouth University.
Knowshon Moreno: An unstoppable force as a running back at Middletown South where he set multiple records and led the Eagles to three straight state titles. Was an All-American at the University of Georgia and drafted No. 12 overall in the 2009 NFL Draft.
Sam Mills: A legendary figure in the Shore Conference, Mills was a star at Long Branch High School and Montclair State before playing 14 years in the NFL and serving as an assistant coach for six years. Lost his battle with cancer in 2005.
Phil Villapiano: Star football player at Ocean Township High School and then Bowling Green University, VIllapiano played 12 years in the NFL and was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and a 1977 Super Bowl champion.
Warren Wolf: The patriarch of Shore Conference football, Wolf coached Brick for 51 seasons and won 361 games along with six NJSIAA state titles, 31 division titles, eight undefeated seasons and 42 winning seasons.
Vic Kubu: A Shore Conference football legend, Kubu compiled an unbelievable 263-71-5 career record in 32 seasons, 22 of them at Manasquan. The Warriors won 10 sectional titles under Kubu, including a record five in a row from 1998 through 2002.