CRANFORD – For the 25th Anniversary of the New Jersey Snapple Bowl, Cranford High School sent safety Elijah Arroyo, linebacker Dylan Budnick, and offensive tackle Jack Carroll to represent Team Union County against Team Middlesex County.
Since its inception, the Snapple Bowl has raised $642,000, in which the proceeds go to the Edison-based Lakeview School, a program of the New Jersey Institute for Disabilities, and the Children’s Specialized Hospital in Mountainside.
Defense dominated the game early on, but it was Middlesex County who went on to take a 22-6 game-shortened victory over Union County. The fourth quarter saw a handful of quarrels and shoving matches before a benches-clearing meet at midfield left the referees and coaches with no other choice but to end the game with 1:25 remaining in the fourth quarter. Middlesex County now has a 15-10 series lead.
Carroll was tasked with manning the blind-side tackle position to fend off Middlesex County’s best edge rushers.
“Everyone here are a lot more competitive (than regular season games),” said Carroll. “Here, I’m going up against Group 4 and 5 kids when I normally play against Group 3. It was a great experience and it’s going to help me get ready to play in college.”
Budnik and Arroyo were on the field together for a majority of their reps, and helped keep Team Union County in it. With a 0-0 score, Budnick made a touchdown-saving tackle at the one-yard line. Along with playing safety, Arroyo served as a punt returner.
All three will continue their football careers in college. Carroll will play for Muhlenberg College, Arroyo at Rowan University, and Budnick at Salve Regina University.
“I wore the C on my helmet and represented the town one more time,” said Carroll. “High school football is something I’m always going to remember. It was a good way to go out. I’m best friends with Elijah and Dylan. To suit up with them one last time was great. Hopefully, I get to go up against them in college.”