Bruce Springsteen isn’t the only person capable of representing the Freehold area on a larger stage.
Jake Hurler and Andre Douyon did it just fine in the 41st annual Phil Simms North-South All-Star Football Classic on June 24 at Kean University.
Hurler, Freehold High School’s kicker, and Douyon, a Freehold Township High School defensive lineman, played for the South All-Stars in their 24-23 defeat to the North All-Stars on that evening in Union.
The South now holds a 20-19-2 edge in the all-time series in the game that each year attracts the top graduated seniors throughout New Jersey.
But Hurler and Douyon were part of a talented group that impressed the game’s eponymous sponsor, Simms, the New York Giants legend who won MVP honors in Super Bowl XXI.
“These are good players,” said Simms during the first quarter on June 24. “It’s probably the fastest the game has been. The two teams overall their speed is the best I’ve seen.”
Hurler and Douyon don’t exactly play speed positions, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t add to Simms’ opinion. The strong Freehold kicker made a tackle on special teams. The long, speedy Freehold Township lineman finished second on the South All-Stars with three tackles.
Both players enjoyed playing in the game, too.
“It means a lot to me,” said Hurler, who drilled three extra points in the contest. “I’ve loved this game for a long time.”
“It’s a big honor. I love it,” Douyon said. “I’m excited that I’m here and that I can represent Freehold Township.”
Hurler looks like a kicker, which actually means he looks like a soccer player. He was a little shorter and leaner than most of his teammates on the South sideline. He also has the balance and posture of an athlete who can handle a flow sport.
Not surprisingly, given his big leg, Hurler played soccer until seventh grade, when he switched to football kicker. Usually, soccer players make the transition to football kicker in high school. But Hurler figured out early on that he liked football better.
“My friends saw me kick a football and were like, ‘You should just try it,'” Hurler said. “And I did.”
The decision paved the way to a memorable high school career. Hurler went on to start for three years at Freehold, making 10-of-11 field goal attempts and 74-of-79 extra point attempts.
All those points helped the Colonials reach the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 sectional playoffs in 2016, 2017 and 2018, though they never won the state sectional championship. The points also helped Hurler earn an offer to kick for Rowan University in Glassboro starting in 2019.
“Once I started getting more into football, I realized I could go farther in football than soccer,” he said.
Douyon barely played as a sophomore at Freehold Township. He played more as a junior but still didn’t start. He finally earned a starting job as a senior in 2018, and made the most of it.
The 6-4, 225-pound senior registered enough quarterback rushes and tackles for a loss to earn a partial scholarship to Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga. Douyon is ready to go to the Division 2 program and compete for a starting job all over again.
“Wherever the coach puts me,” Douyon said. “Work hard, be smart, do what you got to do.”