UNION – South quarterback Josh Zamot – in his final high school game before going on to play at Stony Brook – talked afterwards about a play he called, “5 Special.”
“It was something we ran in practice five times,” Zamot said.
The play produced a touchdown pass to wide receiver Edwin Morales early in the third quarter, covering 40 yards.
Practicing a play called, “5 Special” five times made good sense for the South squad. It went on to score five touchdowns en route to posting a convincing 38-16 win over the North in Monday night’s 40th annual Phil Simms New Jersey North-South All-Star Classic at Kean University’s Alumni Stadium.
The South now leads the series 20-17-2 and has won two straight. The North has never led.
North Offense: 77-Andrew Luehs, OL, (6-3, 260)
Was first given No. 57.
North Defense: 6-Nasir Givens, Orange, DL, (6-3, 230)
South Offense: 8-Nahsir Morgan, Atlantic City, WR, (6-4, 190)
Was first given No. 25.
South Defense: 22-Ji’Ayir Brown, Trenton, DB, (6-1, 180)
Monday’s game was anything but a classic. The South dominated the second quarter – scoring three times – to take a commanding 24-3 lead at intermission.
The South came up with six interceptions, including five in the first half. Nick Verducci of Parsippany Hills threw four in the first half and Liam Anderson of Mount Olive threw one in each half.
One bright spot for the North was the tenacious play of defensive lineman Nasir Givens of Orange. He was named the North Defense MVP.
“I loved the weekend, it was great,” said Givens, who will play in college at Division 2 Pace University. “I got to build a lot of great relationships with these players.”
As for the game, this is what Givens said, “I was ready and had a lot of fun. I had to prove myself. I was here for a reason.”
The North actually led when standout placekicker Valentino Ambrosio split the uprights with a solid 37-yard field goal that put his team up 3-0 at the 4:57 mark of the first quarter.
Ambrosio, who played his first two years at Roselle Park and last two at Cranford – a four-year varsity placekicker for the Union County schools – has a Division 1 soccer scholarship offer on the table from FDU, but has not signed anything yet.
Ambrosio said that representatives from the University of Maryland were supposed to be at the game to see him kick. He is still hopeful of playing collegiate football someday as a placekicker.
Ambrosio’s longest high school field goal was 48 yards his senior season at Cranford’s Memorial Field against Rahway.
North linebacker Arthur Pinckney of Union – along with teammate Dilone Diony of Paterson Kennedy – was in on a tackle that almost produced a North safety in the first half. Pinckney will next play at the Division 1-AA level at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
South Defense MVP Ji’Ayir Brown of Trenton came up with two interceptions in the first half, one of them an acrobatic, one-handed grab after the ball was deflected off single coverage.
In the third quarter, Givens produced a sack that forced the ball loose, with teammate Ahmad Rabah of Passaic Tech coming up with the fumble recovery at mid field. Instant replay (HUDL) was used for the first time to see if the fumble was legit. The refs ruled that it was, with the North taking over possession.
Later in the quarter, Verducci completed a nice pass down the middle of the field to wide receiver Eric Castarina – covering 44 yards – that put the ball on the South two-yard line. Castarina scored from two yards out on the very next play for the first North touchdown.
NOTES: Former Roselle head football coach Lou Grasso, Sr. was honored at halftime.
Grasso – from the section North 2 – was one of four designated as a head coach that was inducted into the New Jersey Football Coaches Association (NJFCA) Hall of Fame.
At haltime of last year’s game at Kean, former Roselle Park head coach John Wagner was the recipient of the Dr. John F. Bateman Foundation Board of Directors Award for Winners for Life – Current Coach.
Grasso is a 1968 Roselle graduate who guided the Rams for 25 seasons from 1979-2003, winning over 100 games.
Wagner, a 1969 Roselle Park graduate, was the head coach at Roselle Park for 25 years from 1981-2005, winning exactly 150 games, which is the most in school history.
Both coaches served as assistant coaches at their alma maters for several seasons before being promoted to head coach.
Grasso is retired, while Wagner, after a highly-successful stint as head coach at Point Pleasant Beach, is now an assistant coach at Rumson-Fair Haven.
Hillside head coach Barris Grant attended the game. Grant guided Hillside to the program’s second state championship in the playoff era last fall when the Comets captured Central Jersey, Group 2.
Hillside’s only other state crown in the playoff era was in North 2, Group 2 in 1985. The 2017 Comets were the first team from Union County to win a state championship in a Central Jersey section.
Grant said that Hillside’s Wood Field Stadium is getting field turf, with it supposed to be put down beginning in July.
“We hope to have the field ready by October,” Grant said.
40TH ANNUAL NORTH-SOUTH ALL-STAR GAME AT KEAN
North (17-20-1) 03 00 07 06 – 16
South (20-17-1) 07 17 07 07 – 38
NORTH – FG Valentino Ambrosio 37 (North 3-0)
SOUTH – Nahsir Morgan 75 pass from Josh Zamot,
Calogero Caruso kick, (South 7-3)
SOUTH – Josh Zamot 3 run, Calogero Caruso kick, (South 14-3)
SOUTH – FG Calogero Caruso 27 (South 17-3)
SOUTH – Ashante Worthy pitch back from Nahsir Morgan
after Morgan caught pass from Josh Zamot. The pass to Morgan
covered 17 yards and then after the pitch back, Worthy ran down
the right sideline from 12 yards out, Calogero Caruso kick, (South 24-3)
SOUTH – Edwin Morales 40 pass from Josh Zamot,
Calogero Caruso kick, (South 31-3)
NORTH – Eric Castarina 2 run, Valentino Ambrosio kick, (South 31-10)
NORTH – Marquez Antinori 3 run, kick blocked, (South 31-16)
SOUTH – Josh Zamot 16 run, Calogero Caruso kick, (South 38-16)
North Offense is named after Dave Szott of Clifton. Szott played
collegiately at Penn State and then in the National Football League
for the Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins and New York Jets.
North Defense is named after Jim Burt of Orchard Park, N.Y.
Burt played collegiately at Miami and then in the NFL for the
New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers. Burt played on the
Giants team that won the Super Bowl after the 1986 season.
South Offense is named after Joe Theismann of South River.
Theismann played collegiately at Notre Dame and then in the NFL
for the Washington Redskins. Theismann played on the Redskins
team that won the Super Bowl after the 1982 season.
South Defense is named after Jim Jeffcoat of Matawan. Jeffcoat
played collegiately at Arizona State and then in the NFL for the
Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills. Jeffcoat played on the Cowboys
teams that won the Super Bowl after the 1992 and 1993 seasons.
North Offense: Andrew Luehs of Verona
North Defense: Nasir Givens of Orange
South Offense: Nahsir Morgan of Atlantic City
South Defense: Ji’Ayir Brown of Trenton
North Offense: Isiah Byrd of Roselle
North Defense: Harrison Fernandez of Union City
South Offense: James Joseph of Seneca
South Defense: Amir Murray of Willingboro
North Offense: Mike Pimpinella of Pascack Valley
North Defense: Keneek Tomlinson of East Orange Campus
South Offense: Tyreek Jackson of Clayton
South Defense: Dashon Burdett of Collingswood
North Offense: Juwan Dolbrice of Linden
North Defense: Tevaughn Grant of Paterson Eastside
South Offense: Vincent Mota of Long Branch
South Defense: Justin Thompson of Palmyra
North Offense: Joe Slattery of Cedar Grove
North Defense: Jason McRae of Roselle
South Offense: John Chamberlin of Williamstown
South Defense: Chris Noesges of Manalapan
SOUTH LEADS SERIES 20-17-2:
2018: South 38, North 16 – at Kean University
2017: South 30, North 22 – at Kean University
2016: North 7, South 0 – at Kean University
2015: South 23, North 21 – at Kean University
2014: South 20, North 14 – at Piscataway High School
2013: North 54, South 8 – at Kean University
2012: North 14, South 7 – at Kean University
2011: South 21, North 14 – at Kean University
2010: North 17, South 3 – at Kean University
2009: South 7, North 0 – at Kean University
2008: North 31, South 25 – at Rutgers Stadium
2007: South 14, North 7 – at Rutgers Stadium
2006: North 31, South 16 – at Rutgers Stadium
2005: North 9, South 7 – at Rutgers Stadium
2004: North 26, South 21 – at Rutgers Stadium
2003: South 3, North 0 – at Rutgers Stadium
2002: No game was played at Rutgers
because of inclement weather before kickoff.
2001: North 24, South 0 – at Rutgers Stadium
2000: South 20, North 5 – at Rutgers Stadium
1999: South 22, North 19 – at Rutgers Stadium
1998: North 33, South 31 – at Rutgers Stadium
1997: South 28, North 24 – at The College of New Jersey
1996: South 32, North 23 – at Rutgers Stadium
1995: North 37, South 15 – at Rutgers Stadium
1994: South 21, North 16 – at Trenton State College
1993: South 9, North 8 – at Giants Stadium
1992: North 7, South 7 (tie) – at Giants Stadium
1991: North 26, South 12 – at Giants Stadium
1990: North 14, South 10 – at Rutgers Stadium
1989: South 24, North 0 – at Rutgers Stadium
1988: South 12, North 9 – at Rutgers Stadium
1987: North 21, South 10 – at Rutgers Stadium
1986: North 20, South 17 – at Rutgers Stadium
1985: North 10, South 10 (tie) – at Rutgers Stadium
1984: North 7, South 0 – at Rutgers Stadium
1983: South 41, North 7 – at Rutgers Stadium
1982: South 16, North 7 – at Rutgers Stadium
1981: South 32, North 0 – at Rutgers Stadium
1980: North 13, South 6 – at Rutgers Stadium
1979: South 34, North 13 – at Rutgers Stadium