There will be a sizeable Shore Conference presence at the 2019 Phil Simms North-South Football Classic.

A total of 20 players from the Shore will suit up for the South All-Stars when they take the field for New Jersey’s state all-star game at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 24 at Kean University. With the offense featuring Rumson-Fair Haven running back Alex Maldjian, Mater Dei Prep wide receiver Isaiah Alston, Freehold Township wide receiver John Manfre, Red Bank Catholic center Tommy Smith, Long Branch guard Kevin Cerruti, Brick Memorial guard Jamison Whaley, St. John Vianney tackle C.J. Hanson, Toms River North guard Stavon Drew, Shore tackle Vin DiMaio, Manasquan wide receiver James Pendergist and Freehold kicker Jake Hurler, and the defense including Manalapan defensive end Da’Shon Taylor, Donovan Catholic defensive tackle Bobo Aluko, Red Bank Catholic linebacker/safety Adam Demurjian, Barnegat linebacker Brian Ewan, Barnegat defensive tackle Anthony Grimes, Monmouth Regional cornerback Dayshawn Porter, Lacey safety Eric Green, Neptune linebacker Najiere Hutchinson and Red Bank linebacker Colin Chatto, nearly half of the roster will be comprised of players from Monmouth and Ocean counties.

Photo by Paula Lopez/

Maldjian, Alston, Cerruti and Smith were all SSN First Team All-Shore selections this past fall. Maldjian ran for 1,702 yards and 23 touchdowns to help Rumson-Fair Haven win its fifth state sectional title in the last six years and also defeated Woodrow Wilson in the Central-South Group 3 Bowl Game. Alston caught 33 passes for 546 yards and eight touchdowns for a Mater Dei offense that averaged 36.8 points per game and helped the Seraphs go 10-2 and reach their third straight state final. Cerruti led the way for a Long Branch offensive line that opened holes for running back Jermaine Corbett, who led New Jersey with 2,021 yards rushing last season, and quarterback Marc Dennis, who threw for 1,476 yards and 21 touchdowns. Smith anchored an RBC offensive line that helped the Caseys average 33.7 points per game on their way to going 10-0 and winning the Non-Public Group 3 state championship.

Photo by Richard O'Donnell.

Hanson, a 6-foot-5, 300-pounder, was a Second Team All-Shore selection and will continue his career at Rutgers University. Taylor, Hutchinson, Pendergist, Ewan and Hurler were also Second Team All-Shore selections. Taylor recorded 74 tackles with eight tackles for loss and four sacks for a defense that allowed 18.2 points per game. A Co-Defensive Player of the Year in the Liberty Division, Hutchinson made 40 tackles with six tackles for loss and three sacks to help Neptune go 5-5 following a winless season. Hutchinson also ran for 549 yards and four touchdowns.

Pendergist excelled on offense, defense and special teams to help Manasquan go 8-3, win the Liberty Division title and reach the Central Jersey Group 2 final. He caught 30 passes for 468 yards and totaled five touchdowns at wide receiver. He was a shutdown corner on defense and finished with 32 tackles, four tackles for loss, two interceptions, seven passes defensed and one fumble recovery. He also blocked three kicks, went 8-for-9 on extra points and kicked a 32-yard field goal. Pendergist was also selected as the Liberty Division Co-Defensive Player of the Year. Ewan recorded 90 tackles with 16 tackles for loss, three sacks, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery to help Barnegat go 7-3 and reach the South Jersey Group 2 playoffs. He finished as the Bengals' all-time leading tackler. Hurler converted 20 of 22 extra points and was 6-for-8 on field goals with a long of 41 yards. He also had 11 catches for 214 yards and a touchdown and recorded 32 tackles and two interceptions on defense.

Photo by Robert Samuels

Manfre, DiMaio and Chatto were Third Team All-Shore selections. Manfre was the leading receiving in Freehold Township’s Air Raid offense, hauling in 34 passes for 549 yards and three touchdowns. He added 32 tackles and two interceptions on defense. DiMaio had two sacks and clogged up running lanes for a Blue Devils defense that allowed just 10.1 points per game. He also played along the offensive line and paved the way for Shore to rush for 2,560 yards and 32 touchdowns and average 29.9 points per game. Chatto had 80 tackles with six tackles for loss and three sacks for a Red Bank defense that allowed 16.8 points per game. His play helped the Bucs rebound from a 2-8 season to finish 7-3 and reach the Central Jersey Group 3 semifinals.

Grimes recorded 60 tackle with nine tackle for loss, one sack and five hurries as a run-stuffing nose guard along Barnegat's defensive line. Whaley and his 6-foot-4, 335-pound frame helped open holes in Brick Memorial’s flexbone offense that averaged 23.7 points per game. Drew was a standout lineman for a Toms River North team that was eighth in the Shore averaging 28.1 points per game. Aluko was one of just a few seniors on Donovan Catholic’s roster, but his impact helped the Griffins’ offense average 31 points per game as they went 7-3 for their most wins since 1993. Porter had 16 receptions for 438 yards and four touchdowns and also snagged three interceptions on defense. Green recorded 40 tackles, two forced fumbles, two pass deflections and a blocked field goal. Demurjian had a huge four-sack performance in a season-opening win over St. John Vianney and was part of a Caseys defense that allowed just 10 points per game.

The South All-Stars are on a two-game winning streak in the series, including last season’s emphatic 38-16 rout. The North-South Classic, which is in its 41st year, is the oldest statewide football all-star game in New Jersey and the second-oldest all-star game behind the Shore Conference All-Shore Gridiron Classic, which began in 1978.


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