LYNDHURST, NJ - If you were expecting the Bergen County All-Star Game to be a nice quiet exhibition of football, similar to the NFL’s Pro Bowl for toned downed hitting, you were in for a big surprise.
The North squad defeated the South squad, 21-7, in a hard-hitting affair that saw the referees throwing flags, breaking up skirmishes, and separating chirping players after each play. It was also a highly entertaining game which had the crowd on the edge of their seats for most of the night, something most All-Star Games don’t have. Carlos Pepin of Lodi scored the South’s lone touchdown, on an 11-yard pass from Mike Bolwell (Becton.)
Joe Kramer of Westwood was named the offensive MVP playing for the North Squad. Joe Mosca of Ramapo was named the defensive MVP.
Hasbrouck Heights was represented by five players, all linemen, while Wood-Ridge sent three players plus injured free safety/quarterback Mike Giancaspro. Defensive linemen Stephen Rykola and Stephen Drotos also represented the Blue Devils, along with kicker Matthew Roncaioli.
The Aviators were represented by linebackers Travis Culkin and James Varga, defensive lineman Justin Wexler and Shakar Assaf and lineman Nate Kim, who played some on both sides of the ball.
At one point during the game, a scan of the defense saw six Heights/Wood-Ridge players lined up on the field together, working at as a unit.
One of the difficult parts of the game was identifying the players. Aside from the teams wearing blue uniforms with red numbers, and red numbers and blue uniforms with red numbers, was trying to identify the helmets.
Most players had helmets from their high school, but with added stickers from other schools. It seemed that the Aviator logo was all over the place, as over half the South squad seemed to be wearing an Aviator on their helmets. Seeing Rutherford players with the Aviator logo, and Hasbrouck Heights with Rutherford “R” on their logos, after their epic battle for the NJIC title in November, was an odd sight.
But most of all the players seemed to be bond. Rivals for at least four years in high school were teammates for the game, and fought alongside of them like they were teammates for years.
As the game ended, one of the South players went down the sidelines, high-fiving his teammates, saying “Thanks, guys, we were a squad.”
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