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Vinny Curry can remember going to the All-Shore Gridiron Classic as a youth football player in hopes of seeing all his local heroes.

“This was like the Pro Bowl of high school football,” Curry said. “We were little guys getting autographs from (Matawan’s) Charlie Rogers and (Neptune’s) Scott Harley and (Red Bank’s) Eric McCoo. That was the closest thing a lot of us kids ever saw from an NFL and college standpoint, and the crowd was insane.”

Life has come full circle for Curry, as the former Neptune star and 11-year NFL veteran is now pairing up with the Shore Football Coaches Foundation for the latest edition of New Jersey’s oldest high school all-star football game. Curry’s Rush2Victory Foundation is the title sponsor of this year’s showdown between the Monmouth County and Ocean County senior all-stars, which is being run by the SFCF.

 “This is what it’s all about,” Curry said. “It’s about giving back, sharing the platform, and never forgetting where you came from.”

Curry’s vision aligns with that of the SFCF when it comes to football in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

Standing, left to right (Cory Davies, Jason Glezman, Keith Kirkwood, Emanuel Capers, Dom Lepore, Gerard O’Donnell) Sitting left to right (Vinny Curry, Lou Vircillo, Joe Martucci)
Standing, left to right (Cory Davies, Jason Glezman, Keith Kirkwood, Emanuel Capers, Dom Lepore, Gerard O’Donnell)
Sitting left to right (Vinny Curry, Lou Vircillo, Joe Martucci)

“The whole concept of the foundation is to promote football, so that’s why this particular agreement coming together is the perfect scenario,” said Hall of Fame Lacey head coach Lou Vircillo, the game coordinator for the All-Shore Gridiron Classic and the founder trustee of the SFCF. Vircillo also called Emanuel Capers of the Rush2Victory Foundation "instrumental in coordinating this effort."

“Vinny Curry really wanted to jump into things with both feet, and he has a great desire to promote football, especially youth football.”

Vircillo also credits the hard work of his fellow SFCF trustees as crucial to the continuing success of the All-Shore Gridiron Classic. The group of Hall of Famers includes former Matawan coach Joe Martucci, Shore Regional’s Mark Costantino, Freehold Township’s Cory Davies, Southern’s Chuck Donohue Sr., former Middletown South and Fairleigh Dickinson coach Rich Mosca, and Rumson-Fair Haven’s Jerry Schulte, the last of whom is being inducted into the SFCF Hall of Fame at this year’s game.

The SFCF is also grateful for the contributions of the 11 coaches involved in the game committee and 7-on-7 tournament, as well as Monmouth County head coach Jeremy Schulte (Rumson-FH), Ocean County head coach Vin Mistretta (Jackson Memorial) and their respective staffs.

The SFCF was formerly the Shore Conference Football Coaches Association before incorporating into a foundation to take over running the annual all-star game in the mid-2000s. The SFCF also has a 7-on-7 tournament surrounding the All-Shore Gridiron Classic and holds an annual Academic All-Shore breakfast honoring the players who shine on and off the field.

They are excited to add the resources and energy of the charismatic Curry, 34, who has excelled at the highest level of football. He has 32.5 career sacks as a defensive end for three NFL teams and won a Super Bowl ring with the Philadelphia Eagles. He also was inducted into the Marshall University Athletics Hall of Fame last year for his decorated college career.

Curry wasn’t able to play in the 2006 All-Shore Gridiron Classic in his senior year because he had to leave early for prep school, but he wants it to be an annual gathering for those in the Shore Conference football brotherhood. He is having a barbecue area at the game for former All-Shore Gridiron Classic participants and wants an alumni gathering to be a regular component of the game every year.

“My thing is these guys paved the way,” Curry said. “I took the torch, now I'm passing the torch. These kids need to understand how much fun we had playing in the Shore, and this is what makes the Shore Conference so special.”

The game is also part of his family’s history. His uncle, Robert Curry, a former standout running back for Neptune, played in the inaugural version of the all-star game at Wall Stadium in 1978.

The partnership between the SFCF and Curry’s Rush2Victory Foundation has resulted in some new wrinkles in the game’s 46th edition. This is the first year it’s ever been played at Monmouth University’s Kessler Stadium, and the players will spend two days staying overnight on Monmouth’s campus as they prepare for the game.

attachment-2023 Gridiron Classic Vinny Curry

Curry’s foundation will also hold a youth camp a day before the game for more than 600 players from kindergarten through eighth grade. It’s the 11th year Curry has done a youth camp, and it’s the biggest one yet. He also is the father of a youth player, as his son, Noah, 6, is already crazy about the game.

The camp at Monmouth University will feature a host of NFL players who were once Shore Conference stars themselves. The luminaries included Chargers cornerback Ja’Sir Taylor (Brick), Steelers linebacker Chapelle Russell (Lakewood), Ravens quarterback Anthony Brown (St. John Vianney), Saints wide receiver Keith Kirkwood (Neptune) and former Jets and Giants safety Bennett Jackson (Raritan).

“We're pumping out all this NFL talent,” Curry said. “I want to give these guys their flowers while they're still in the league. We need to shed a light on what the Shore Conference has done in the National Football League, so I wanted to get involved with the conference (all-star) game.”

Players from this year’s All-Shore Gridiron Classic will also be counselors at the camp.

“So far it's worked very well,” Vircillo said. “We’re doing a lot of new things, so we’re going to evaluate everything afterwards to see how the changes went.”

The combination of a homegrown star and a group of veteran coaches working hard to promote the tradition of the Shore Conference means the All-Shore Gridiron Classic is in good hands.

“I just have so much passion for the Shore Conference,” Curry said. “I’m rooting for all these kids to make it.”

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