Catching Up

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Before I start delving into preseason camps in the coming days, I just wanted to catch up on a few things I missed while I was in Hawaii for the past two weeks.

First off, congrats to Manalapan quarterback Mike Bimonte. Right about the time my wife was walking down the aisle toward me in the church on July 30, I got an e-mail from Braves coach Tom Gallahue that he had verbally committed to Rutgers, so it wasn’t exactly the ideal time to post a story. Still, I will have more on this in the upcoming days. If I’m not mistaken, he is the first Division I-A recruit from Manalapan since Cory Brooks played linebacker at Syracuse at the beginning of the ’00s. It also makes him the second Rutgers verbal from the vaunted Shore Conference Class of 2011, as he joins Neptune running back/defensive back Charles Davis. I wonder if those two will start to gang up on the other guys like Miles Shuler, Jack Tabb and more from the Shore who Rutgers is targeting to try and get a whole Shore contingent up there.

Bimonte’s verbal also now leaves Tabb, Shuler, Jackson Memorial defensive lineman Dimitrius Smith, Middletown North tight end/defensive end Shilique Calhoun, and Pinelands linebacker Bobby Schwarzenberger as those with Division I-A offers who are still uncommitted. Plus, there is a large contingent of players who are high Division I-AA/low Division I-A players, like Matawan linebacker Andre Hodge and others, who may attract a I-A offer before it’s all said and done.

Also in the recruiting department, Monmouth University recently offered Red Bank Catholic senior running back/safety Andrew Casten, who ran for over 1,000 yards as a junior, according to RBC head coach Jim Portela. Also, Toms River North senior wide receiver Anthony Carrington, who has transferred back to TRN after a 1-year detour at Lakewood, has been offered by Wagner, according to TRN coach Chip LaBarca Jr.

Unfortunately, after hearing about Bimonte earlier in the day, later on that evening at our reception I also got the wrenching news about the death of Howell wide receiver Johnny Bukowiec in a car crash that also injured linebacker Rob Malfara and wide receiver Phil Adamo, all of whom were seniors on last fall’s Shore Conference American Division champions. I had interviewed Bukowiec before and also covered his older brother, Kyle, one of the first star wide receivers when Howell changed to the spread in the middle of this past decade, so that was difficult to swallow. Johnny was quick with a smile and a friendly kid who was definitely a team player more worried about wins than stats. My condolences to the Bukowiec family.

The sad part is that wasn’t the end of the bad news during the hiatus. My condolences also go out to the family of former Raritan standout defensive end Chris Carroll, who died at 23 years old on Aug. 6 after being hit by a train at 4:20 a.m. in Hazlet. Carroll led the team in sacks in 2004, when the Rockets went 12-0 and won their only state sectional championship in school history.

I don’t know what it is, but there just seems to be a black cloud of death hanging over the Shore Conference football scene in recent years. Whether it was the loss of Keyport’s J.J. Bedle and Aaron Lee only a few years out of high school, or the loss of Carroll and Bukowiec, or Freehold’s Mike Dragonetti dying in a car crash a few years back, or Vic Kubu passing away from cancer, or the stunning death of St. John Vianney linebacker Dan Falco last year, it’s been an awfully rough stretch in the last 5 years.


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