Jacari Carter was not originally invited to the 41st annual Phil Simms North-South All-Star Football Classic.
The Sayreville War Memorial High School senior had to ask his way into the most prestigious summer all-star game in New Jersey, which took place on June 24 at Kean University’s Alumni Stadium in Union.
But once the game started up in Union, Carter showed he belonged. As those Generation Z kids say, he “showed out.”
Since this was an all-star game, the Sayreville receiver/running back only got 10 touches. But he made the most of them, swirling out of the backfield, gaining chunks of yardage and even leaping over defenders. Carter finished with seven carries for 36 yards rushing and three catches for 18 yards, an average of 5.4 yards per touch.
After the North All-Stars came back to beat Carter’s South All-Stars, 24-23, in the fourth quarter, Carter was named the South’s offensive most valuable player. Under the glowing lights, Carter stood at midfield, held up his plaque and posed for pictures with New York Giants legendary QB, Phil Simms, the game’s eponymous sponsor.
After not getting selected for the game, Carter ended the night as the all-star among all-stars.
“I just want to thank coach Calvin Thompson for being there for me all week,” Carter said after the game.
Thompson runs the C.A.P.P. Football Academy, “a dynamic and comprehensive recruiting service” based out of Sea Girt, according to its website and Facebook account. “We develop, market & place football players in college or professional football,” adds the academy’s Twitter page.
Thompson is also a coach and executive committee member for the North-South All-Star Football Classic. In the weeks leading up to the game, he lobbied for Carter to be added to the South roster.
As Carter spoke with reporters after the contest, Thompson looked on and smiled.
“The bottom line is I got a phone call and then I looked at his tape,” Thompson said. “I was like, ‘Wow. Look at this kid.'”
The coach saw what Sayreville fans watched all last fall. Carter zipping over and around defenders on offense, and hawking the ball on defense. The senior played the offensive skill positions and defensive back for the Bombers, and he helped the program to one of its best seasons ever.
Sayreville finished with an 11-1 record. It also won the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 5 sectional playoff championship with a 6-0 victory over North Brunswick Township High School on Nov. 17, 2018. Then it won the NJSIAA South Jersey, Group 5 Bowl championship with a 14-7 triumph over Williamstown High School on Nov. 23.
Carter scored six touchdowns and intercepted two passes in 2018. It was a memorable senior year in every way for the confident teenager.
“I left my mark in high school but always another game can showcase my talents,” Carter said.
The senior graduated from Sayreville on June 21 with his classmates, but he is not done with football. Carter is heading up to Great Barrington, Ma. to play for East Coast Prep, a postgraduate program.
East Coast Prep’s coach, Dick Bell, has a good reputation for helping his players earn collegiate football scholarships. He has sent 127 players to Division 1 programs in the past six years.
“It will help me see what I want to do for the future,” Carter said. “Coach Bell’s reputation speaks for itself.”
The South still holds a 20-19-2 all-time edge in the annual game that features a collection of the top seniors from New Jersey.