Recent scholastic graduates took advantage of one more night of high school football when they competed in the annual All-Shore Gridiron Classic.
On the football field of Bresett Stadium at Long Branch High School, some of the top 95 players assembled on July 12 to participate in the 42nd all-star game for the Shore Conference. The all-star teams of just graduated players were split into Monmouth County and Ocean County.
The game was originally scheduled for July 11, but it was postponed one day due to thunder storms in the state.
Monmouth County extended its winning streak in the series to three straight when it scored a 21-6 victory over Ocean County. Monmouth now holds a 23-18-1 lead in the All-Shore Gridiron Classic.
“I have dreamed about playing in this game since I was in fifth grade. My brother has played in this game too it is just awesome,” said running back Gerard Urso of Howell High School. “I get to play with some of my friends from different schools. To get here I did everything I could during the season.”
He said he will be attending Kings College in Pennsylvania, where he will also continue playing football.
“Friday nights under the lights brings back some many good memories,” Urso said.
He was joined on the Monmouth County squad by Howell defensive lineman Matt Jacobs.
Players from Howell High School, Jackson Liberty High School, and Jackson Memorial High School were selected to play in the all-star game.
Jackson Liberty defensive lineman Mike Chmura battled in the trenches for Ocean County.
“To be out here with the best and with those from Ocean County means a lot. This game and week of practice has been competitive,” he said. “I’m thankful that I have one more opportunity to put the pads at the high school level.”
Chumura will be attending Rowan University and will play football at the college in Glassboro.
He was accompanied on the Ocean County team by fellow Jackson Liberty teammate, linebacker Shane Simonson.
Jackson Memorial wide receiver Tyler Brito said it has been fun being selected to play in the game. He was on the Ocean County roster.
“The guys across the field are pretty good, but so are we. The competition not only during the game but also practice this week has shown me that I have to train harder to get ready for college ball,” he said. “I spent a lot of time on the track and weightlifting to get be selected here from last season.”
Next year, Brito will be attending Coastal Carolina University and plans on walking on to play on the football team.
“It feels good to put on these pads again. I am glad that I am here and had this opportunity. This game gives me a shot to show what I can do,” Brito said.
Linebacker Joe Maffei, running back Leo Shimonovich, defensive lineman Sean Sharo and linebacker Chance Benjamin also represented Jackson Memorial in the all-star game.
“We get five days to put a bunch of literally strangers together and the boys and coaches did a great job. Monmouth players are a little bit of a different breed,” said Monmouth county’s head coach, Jerry Schulte, who guided Rumson-Fair Haven High School to state sectional playoff title this past season.