US Army Gridiron Classic Set/Cicardo, Acquaviva Make College Commitments

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This year’s U.S. Army All-Shore Gridiron Classic pitting the senior all-stars from Monmouth County against their counterparts from Ocean County will be played at 7 p.m. on July 14 on the turf at Toms River North, according to game director Lou Vircillo of Lacey.

The Monmouth County head coach is All Shore Media Coach of the Year Shane Fallon of Rumson-Fair Haven, who led the Bulldogs to their first state sectional title in school history in the fall. Vircillo, whose Lions went 12-0 and finished No. 1 in the Shore, will most likely be the Ocean County coach but said he is still deciding. The practices will be at Rumson and at Lacey if Vircillo indeed serves as head coach.

July 14th is a Thursday, and I applaud this move by the Shore Football Coaches Foundation, which runs the annual all-star game. Instead of having everyone battle Garden State Parkway traffic on a Friday, everyone can make the trip to Toms River on Thursday for what should be a great game. The rain date is Saturday, July 16. The rosters are in the process of being finalized.

In college commitment news, Brick Memorial senior linebacker/defensive back Mike Acquaviva, an All Shore Media second-team All-Conference selection, will continue his career at Montclair State. Acquaviva had 52 tackles, 11 for a loss, 8 passes defensed, 2 sacks and a forced fumble for one of the Shore Conference’s top defenses to help the Mustangs reach the Central Jersey Group IV final for the third straight year. He was also selected to the Class A South All-Division team by the coaches.

Also, ASM first-team quarterback Craig Cicardo will continue his career at Rhode Island, according to Vircillo. A three-year starter, Cicardo capped his career by helping the Lions go 12-0 and win the South Jersey Group III title, their first since 2006. Running Lacey’s spread offense out of the shotgun, Cicardo finished 69-for-105 (66 percent) passing for 1,176 yards, 16 touchdowns and only three interceptions for the No. 1 team in the All Shore Media Top 10. He also ran for 592 yards on 151 carries and scored 18 touchdowns, giving him 34 touchdowns combined on the season between rushing and passing. He ran or passed for at least one touchdown in all 12 of Lacey’s games for an offense that averaged 36 points per game and beat Delsea 56-7 in the SJ III final. Cicardo was selected to the All-Class B South Division team and Co-Offensive Player of the Year by the coaches as well.

Here is the news release from Vircillo:

CRAIG CICARDO JR has agreed to attend Rhode Island University in the fall to continue his studies and play the game he loves which is football. Craig teamed up with his father Craig Cicardo Sr., for the last three seasons to install the Florida University offense “Lacey style” and the results culminated in an undefeated season as well as a South Jersey State Championship in 2010.

Head coach Lou Vircillo praised his offensive coordinator, Cicardo Sr., who also played quarterback for him back in 1982 and1983. “His presence over the last six seasons has made it a pleasure to coach. He rounded out my staff and gave me the “right arm” that brings a good football staff up to the level of a great football staff.”

The coach admitted he had spent many years traveling to the University of Notre Dame spring football sessions with his former player while the elder Cicardo was a young head coach at Mater Dei and then Pinelands. He noticed his great desire to learn the game and watched his development as an offensive coach. In 2005 the elder Cicardo agreed to join his mentor as a lead assistant and was given the opportunity to ultimately install the Florida offense which the pair of coaches observed and studied under Urban Meyer, former head coach of the University of Florida.

So coach Vircillo took over the defense and entrusted the offense to his former player. The fact that the younger Craig would become the Lion quarterback for the last three seasons was a bonus. The two Cicardo’s would get to work at the game morning noon and night giving the Lacey offense a big edge.

During the season Craig threw 16 touchdown passes and rushed for 18 more. He recorded the schools highest percentage in the passing category, and recorded the most touchdown passes in a single season becoming the second leading career scorer in Lacey’s 30 year history.

He was named to the 1st TEAM ALL SHORE and ALL SOUTH JERSEY. He was also named ALL COUNTY PLAYER OF THE YEAR in the Star Ledger, New Jersey Coaches TOP 100 TEAM, and the ALL SHORE SCHOLAR TEAM.

“Craig Jr. worked extremely hard at the game as well as his overall conditioning.” Vircillo said. “He did everything he could possibly do to ensure his teams success.” Craig was a model student in high school maintaining a 4.37 GPA and becoming a member of the school’s National Honor Society. Craig also served his student government as its treasurer. Craig has received a Merit Scholarship at the RIU and will study finance.



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