Arthur L. Johnson kicker excels in Phil Simms NJ North/South All-Star Football Classic

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UNION, NJ – During the course of the past four varsity seasons for the Arthur L. Johnson High School Crusaders, Brett Makowsky lit up the scoreboard on more than one occasion.

There was a 43-yard field goal early in his junior year for his first of six career field goals in 10 attempts.

On three occasions last year for an Arthur L. Johnson team that made the state playoffs, Makowsky was a perfect 6-for-6 on extra point attempts in dominating Arthur L. Johnson shutout victories.
So it should have come as no surprise what he did on the field at Kean University on Sunday, June 11, to help the North win again.

Makowsky made a 27-yard field goal with a little less than seven minutes to go in the third quarter for the game’s first points. Putting the North in the lead for good, his all-star game field goal proved to be the game-winning points.

Makowsky, who was perfect in extra point attempts his senior season by making all 35 he attempted, added an extra point after the only North touchdown.

Makowsky, who will continue playing football at the next level at Ithaca College, scored four of the North’s 10 points to help lead the North past the South 10-6 in the 45th annual Phil Simms North-South Classic at Alumni Stadium in Union on Sunday, June 11.

Arthur L. Johnson’s kicker the past four seasons and the maker of 67-of-68 extra point attempts and 6-of-10 field goal tries, Makowsky made a major impact in the last high school football game he will ever play.

“I was ready for whenever they needed me,” said Makowsky, whose 27-yard field goal was perfect, splitting the uprights and with plenty of distance to spare.

“I felt good and was confident I was going to make it,” Makowsky added.

As a freshman, Makowsky made 14-of-15 extra points. He was a perfect 9-for-9 his sophomore and junior years and was then perfect again his senior campaign with the 35-for-35. Makowsky did not have a field goal attempt his freshman and sophomore campaigns. He made 5-of-7 as a junior and 1-of-3 as a senior last fall.

Here’s a full account of how Makowsky and other players from Union County helped the North win its third straight in the series:
After a juiceless first 24 minutes, the game scoreless at the half, players from Union County took it upon themselves to inject some life into an all-star game now annually played in Union County.

First, it was Matt Sims of David Brearley High School in Kenilworth, starting the third quarter at quarterback and running up the middle for four yards on the opening play. Sims followed that with continued runs straight ahead for 12 yards and a first down and then 26 more yards and another North first down.

Second, it was Kyon Simonson of Hillside High School, rushing for a first down to the South 15. Then it was Simonson again, getting the handoff from Sims and gaining six more yards to the nine.

Third, it was Brett Makowsky of Arthur L. Johnson in Clark, two plays later, who stepped up and split the uprights with plenty of distance in kicking a 27-yard field goal with 6:58 left in the quarter.

Those proved to be the game-winning points, since it put the North ahead for good at 3-0. The North went up 10-0 late in the third quarter and then the South pulled to within 10-6 late in the fourth period.

The North then held on for a 10-6 triumph against the South in the 45th annual Phil Simms NJ North/South All-Star Football Classic at Kean University’s Alumni Stadium.

Once again, the North tied the series, this time at 20-20-2. For three years the game was not played, first due to inclement weather at Rutgers in 2002, then because of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

The North, which has now won the last three contests, has never led the series, which began in 1979. Next year, the North will get another opportunity to take its first series lead.

The North won 24-23 in 2019 and 21-16 last year. The North has won the last three contests in the series by a combined total of 10 points.

On the opening second half drive, which led to the game’s first points, Sims carried the ball three times for 41 yards, doing so in the similar fashion that led the David Brearley High School Bears to last year’s North 1, Group 1 sectional state championship game.

“At halftime, the coaches talked about putting a play in that we worked on Friday,” Sims said. “It was 16 Power. I just saw the holes and got great blocking for big gains.”

“It was a challenge going up against these guys from the South,” Simonson said. “They were able to clog up holes sometimes and other times I just followed my blockers and tried to get through the holes that were there.”

“My teammates put me in a position to succeed,” Makowsky said of his field goal.

With 1:04 left in the third quarter, the North produced the game’s first touchdown on a 25-yard pass thrown over the middle from Van Weber of Rutherford High School to Travis Osterhout of Jefferson Township High School.

Makowsky added the extra point to account for four of the North’s 10 points.

The South finally got on the scoreboard with 2:56 remaining when running back Jerimaya Paula of Rancocas Valley Regional High School closed a drive by reaching the end zone on a three-yard run up the middle. James Kratochvil of Randolph High School blocked the extra point attempt by Trevin Delgozzo of St. Joseph Academy of Hammonton.

In the first half, Delgozzo’s 43-yard field goal attempt was wide right with 10:27 to go in the second quarter. The North had an opportunity to go for a 38-yard field goal in the first half, but, instead, opted to run another play from scrimmage that did not result in gaining a first down.

Sims, who also had runs of 10 and nine yards on the North’s final possession, will next play quarterback in the New Jersey Athletic Conference for Division 3 Salisbury University in Salisbury, Md.

“I’m very humbled to play in this game,” Sims said. “Usually, guys from Group 1 schools are not picked, so this was very special.

“I think Salisbury is a perfect fit for me. They also run the triple-option, similar to what we had at Brearley. I owe a lot to (David Brearley head coach) Scott Miller. He pushed me since I was in seventh grade and got me ready for high school. I owe a lot to him.”

Simonson originally gave a verbal to Army. Instead he will next play running back at St. Thomas More School in Oakdale, Conn., with hopes after one year of moving on to Division 1 program.

“The coach there reached out to me my junior year,” Simonson said. “I then reached out to him this year. I report Aug. 23.”

Makowsky is also headed to a Division 3 school, Ithaca College. He will immediately be in competition for the kicker and punter positions.

“Their kicker is leaving, so now there is me, another freshman and a sophomore who will be competing for the kicking positions,” Makowsky said.

A four-year varsity player at Arthur L. Johnson who was the first Crusader to play in the North-South game in more than two decades, Makowsky had high praise for his head coach Anthony DelConte.

“Coach is a great man,” Makowsky said. “He really cares about his kids and is very passionate. He also helps kids in the classroom when they need it. He’s a great guy.”

Photos by JR Parachini