Extras from the North-South Game

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E-mail: stump@allshoremedia.com

While it wasn’t the best result for the South All-Stars, which included a group of 14 Shore Conference players, in a 17-3 loss in the annual North-South All-Star Classic on Monday night in front of 3,000 fans at Kean University, there was still plenty to take away from the game. (You can click here for the game story.)

Here are some extra notes/thoughts:

—Manchester defensive tackle Jimmy Lawson, who is headed to Monmouth University, was the first name to pop out of the mouth of South defensive coordinator Rich McGlynn of Highland Park when asked about what players caught his eye during the weekend of practice. Lawson finished with 6 1/2 tackles in the game and had several quarterback pressures in a game where defensive linemen could not stunt or line up in the gaps. It was just brute strength and quickness.

“Lawson is the real deal,” McGlynn said. “His hips are low and he has an explosive first step. Plus his motor never stops.”

I talked to Jimmy after the game and asked him if he still gets questions about wrestling in his future. Lawson was a three-time NJSIAA heavyweight champion who initially verbally committed to Rutgers for wrestling before breaking that commitment and signing with Monmouth University for football.

“Everywhere I go,” Lawson said before smiling. “Even the kids here this weekend were all asking me about wrestling. I am committed to Monmouth to play football, and that is what I am going to do.”

The bottom line is that if Lawson was about 3 or 4 inches taller, he would have been a major college defensive line recruit because he is so agile and explosive for a 290-pounder. He is the coup of Monmouth’s recruiting class in my opinion.

Lawson also produced one of the funnier moments of the night when he chest bumped fellow defensive lineman Lorenzo Coscarelli of Red Bank Catholic, who also had a strong game with 2 hits for a loss, after the two sandwiched a ballcarrier. That’s 570 pounds of beef colliding (and that’s only because Coscarelli has slimmed down from 330 during the season to 280 now), and it send Coscarelli stumbling on to his backside. I saw Lawson do the same thing in a game against Central during the regular season, when one of his Manchester teammates went for the chest bump with him and was sent flying. Whether it’s wrestling or chest-bumping, he puts people flat on their backs.

—The Shore guys on the defensive line stood out as the impact players in that unit, as Lawson, Coscarelli, Middletown South defensive end Nick Bricker, Lacey’s Mike Stuppiello and Keyport’s Bryan Thomson all were very solid. Somewhere Middletown South defensive coordinator Al Bigos was smiling when Bricker, who had 7 forced fumbles this past season, ripped the ball loose from a ballcarrier in the second quarter and fell on the fumble.

—McGlynn also picked out Asbury Park’s Jamar Small, who played cornerback/safety/running back in the game, as another impact player. Small was Asbury Park’s quarterback on a team that won its third straight Central Jersey Group I title in the fall. McGlynn knows all about his impact because Asbury beat Highland Park twice during the season, including a 44-6 rout in the state final in which Small threw a pair of touchdown passes and also made three interceptions on defense, taking one of them 90 yards to the house. On Monday night, he showed some good burst when they used him as a tailback. He usually is one of those juking runners, but on Monday he was decisive, making one quick cut and then going straight downhill.

—Tough night for the South quarterbacks, including Howell’s record-setting Jimmy Ryan. If anyone needed a demonstration of why major Division I-A programs want quarterbacks who are in the 6-foot-4 to 6-6 range, last night was the perfect example. Ryan (5-11, Montclair State recruit) and Middle Township’s Nolan Quinn (6-2, Albright College recruit) had trouble seeing over the top of the mammoth North defensive line, which was collapsing the pocket repeatedly and flushing both of them to the sideline. Both had trouble seeing over the trees, although both did make some nice passes off scrambles.

—As always, the South team had a distinct Shore Conference flavor beyond the players. The head coach was legendary former Wall/Neptune/St. John Vianney/Allentown head man John Amabile, and his assistants included Point Boro head coach Calvin Thompson, Point Boro assistants Mark Deppen and Frank Monello, Neptune/SJV coach Joe Mason, and Long Branch coach Kris Parker. Also, the athletic trainers included Middletown South’s Stacy White, Middletown North’s Danielle Mitterando and Middletown North vice principal Mike Wells, the former athletic trainer at Matawan who still fills in at multiple events around the Shore.

—Another player who stood out on the South that Thompson mentioned to keep an eye on before the game was Millville wideout Khalil Wallace, who was named the offensive MVP after catching three passes for 41 yards from Ryan and also blocking an extra point. He also was wide open for a sure touchdown in the second half, but Ryan overthrew him, and he also drew a pass-interference penalty.

The 6-foot-4 Wallace could be a steal for Rowan if he keeps his head on straight after missing his junior year for disciplinary reasons. He is a big kid with good hands who makes good adjustments in the air and runs a 4.4 40. Unfortunately for him, they announced him all night as “Khalil Evans” because it was wrong on the roster. Don’t worry, he’s not like that basketball player in Texas who was really in his 20s and playing under a fake name. You can’t argue with the kid’s commitment, though. He drove from his high school graduation to Kean on Friday night, arriving at 3 a.m. after making the journey from Millville, which is at Exit 0 on the Parkway (Kean is off Exit 140).

—I liked what I saw from Oakcrest defensive back Craig James, who twice was locked in one-on-one duels on an island near the sideline on a pair of well-thrown fade passes in the first half and got a hand up to knock the ball away at the last instant without making any contact with the receiver. He is going to Villanova, which won the FCS (Division I-AA) title this past season.

—It was kind of strange to see a lineman (Millburn’s Lex Blum) doing kickoffs and a running back (Nutley’s Ray Cetrulo) attempting field goals and extra points in an all-star game, but Lakeland kicker Jon Allard got hurt so the North had to go to Plan B. Cetrulo did kick PATs for his high school team, usually after his own touchdowns, as he scored 32 of them on his way to setting the Essex County single-season record for points.

—Unfortunately some of the bigger names were either no-shows or injured. Williamstown bulldozer Marcus Hampton, a punishing runner, was out with a shoulder injury, while Syracuse recruit Dyshawn Davis of Woodbury and Villanova recruit Corey Reeder of Pemberton, a pair of wide receivers, were no-shows for the South, although that at least allowed Long Branch’s Devron Clark to get a last-second invite. He returned kicks and played wideout.

—McGlynn also mentioned Lindenwold’s Leon Jones along with Small as cornerbacks he would put on the North’s top receivers in the fourth quarter in a tight game, and it’s no surprise considering Jones had two first-half interceptions and was named the South’s defensive MVP. He has a good break on the ball, although he could’ve been sitting in a beach chair and gotten his second interception, which was lobbed up for grabs.

—Before the game, North defensive coordinator Brian Sheridan of Union was pumping up his guy, defensive tackle Terance Gavin, and it was not homerism. Gavin is going to Division III power Wesley, and like Lawson, he is 5-11 and if he was a few inches taller, he would be a major prospect. He was unblockable up front in the first half in a game where the defensive lineman are not allowed to twist or stunt and the linebackers can’t blitz.

—To me, the most impressive players in the game were the tandem of North defensive ends Billy Dobbs of East Orange and Olsen Pierre of Rahway. They had Ryan and Quinn running for their lives all night, and Dobbs had 3 sacks. They showed a nice combination of strength, often driving linemen right back into the quarterback, and speed, chasing Quinn and Ryan down before they could turn the corner after being flushed from the pocket.

Dobbs, who is 6-5 and 250 pounds, is going to Nassau Community College in Long Island, a juco power, and if he gets his academics together and continues to progress, he should be a I-A player. Sheridan went so far as to say he thinks he can play on Sundays. Pierre is also doing a post-grad year at another football factory, Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia, and at 6-4 and 255, he is another player with definite Division I-A potential.

—Great to see a small-school guy like Point Beach’s Kyle Barnes get some significant minutes for the South. He served as a blocking fullback and also did the punting, although one of his punts was blocked.

—Got a glimpse of Monmouth University quarterback recruit Greg DePugh of Parsippany Hills and he needs to add some size. He has a pretty good frame. I didn’t seen him really get a chance to rifle any throws deep downfield or to the sideline in tight coverage, so it’s hard to gauge his arm strength. To be completely honest, none of the quarterbacks in the game really stood out at all.

—New York Jets tight ends coach Mike Devlin was in the house to check out a game in which he once participated as a senior for the South team out of Cherokee High School in 1988. Phil Simms was also in attendance, as he is friends with the family of Don Bosco Prep wide receiver Steve Sweeney, who played for the North. Simms’ son Matt, who is now at Tennessee, was a quarterback at Don Bosco and works out with Sweeney because they live close to one another and are good friends.


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