U.S. Army All-Shore Gridiron Classic Notes

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E-mail: stump@allshoremedia.com

With two days of practice in the books leading up to Friday’s U.S. Army All-Shore Gridiron Classic at 7 p.m. at Matawan, here are a few updates. First, just a reminder that the game will be broadcast live on the radio by the Shore Sports Network on 105.7 “The Hawk” FM and streamed online at http://www.shoresportsnetwork.com, and it will also be televised on tape delay by MSG Varsity for Cablevision subscribers.

The Monmouth County team has definitely lost some star power as standout linebackers Billy George of Long Branch and Kevin Whitlock of Red Bank Catholic will not be playing because of commitments to wrestling and lacrosse, respectively, which are the sports the two will compete in on the collegiate level. The Middletown South trio of linebacker Sean Campbell, the All Shore Media Defensive Player of the Year, as well as defensive end Nick Bricker and offensive lineman Steve Coluccio, have missed the first two practices and are not expected back until Tuesday because they are on vacation.

It also looks like Monmouth County will be without Asbury Park running back George Stephens, a three-time, 1,000-yard rusher and one of the most explosive offensive players in the Shore. He had shoulder surgery in the spring and has not been cleared by the doctor to play yet. I talked to his Asbury Park teammate, Jamar Small, on Sunday and he said it looks like it might be a long shot for Stephens to get cleared and have time to get some practices in, so the chances of him playing are slim.

The Monmouth defense has looked good thus far and the wide receiving group looks to be a main strength on offense, with guys like Long Branch’s Ezra Kelly and the Howell tandem of Phil Adamo and Rob Handy standing out. Considering the team has no true fullback, I wouldn’t expect to see too much I-formation stuff. There will be more one-back sets. Rumson’s John Riley broke a long run in practice on Sunday and could be a darkhorse to have a strong game on Friday behind a more heralded running back like Raritan’s Jesse Raymond.

The clear characters of the Monmouth team are Manasquan’s Dan Sullivan and Red Bank Catholic’s Lorenzo Coscarelli. Sullivan played defensive end for the Warriors but looks to be playing linebacker in this game. If there’s one voice you can consistently hear during practice, it’s Sullivan’s, whose father, Barry, is an assistant at Manasquan who was formerly the head coach at Red Bank Regional.

Coscarelli has slimmed down by more than 40 pounds since the end of the season, when he was a 330-pound defensive tackle for the Caseys, which is probably why he asked me why I haven’t written a big feature on the sexiest player in the Shore yet because I was busy writing one on his RBC teammate, Jack Tabb. He is another one who has kept the mood light, jawing with Long Branch’s Devron Clark and others.

A 7-on-7 tournament has been added to this year’s Gridiron Classic featuring returning players from Monmouth and Ocean County playing for their respective high schools. The Monmouth one will be held on Wednesday at Matawan, while the Ocean County 7-on-7 tournament will be played on Tuesday starting at 1 p.m. at Toms River East. The winners from each county will play one another before the big game on Friday.

As for Ocean County, Manchester linebacker James Smith suffered a knee injury in practice and looks like he will not be able to play in the game. Also, Jackson Memorial’s Anthony Petro, a Wagner recruit and one of the better defensive backs in the Shore, injured his shoulder near the end of practice on Sunday and is also questionable for the game. In addition, Brick Memorial standout defensive tackle Billy Miller is not participating in the game.

Ocean County’s strengths appear to be the running game and its defense, with Manchester’s Jimmy Lawson looking outstanding at defensive tackle after recently turning in a great performance for the South in a 17-3 loss to the North in the annual North-South All-Star Classic.

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