UNION, NJ - The NJIC was well represented Monday night, if not in size, in impact.
Hasbrouck Heights Jasiah Purdie continued his “human highlight reel” tour with one final game, scoring a touchdown on the North’s first offensive play of the game. Rutherford’s Johnny Mendez, the NJIC’s other representative, made an impression with a long kickoff return in the second half in addition to catching two passes.
Both players showed that they belonged in the game that was filled with kids from the Group 3 and Group 4 schools, as well as some kids from the Non-Public schools as well.
“Yeah, we took some good-natured ribbing during the week, “ said Rutherford’s Mendez after the game. “It was all good though, we had a great group of guys. “
If there were any doubts about Purdie, and his ability to shine in a game against big group schools, it lasted one play. The North said was electric after the play, and later, when the time came for someone to fire up the North offense before the half, down 21-7, it was Purdie who was getting the offense focused.
“We proved we could ‘ball’ with anybody tonight,” Purdie said. “During practice we would hear it some. But we had a great group of guys, and we went and did our thing.”
And while it may have been years since Hasbrouck Heights has had a player in this North/South game, Purdie and this year’s team was well known.
At these post-season All-Star games, it is common practice for teams to provide extra helmet logo stickers to their players to trade stickers. While Purdie’s helmet only had a few (Rutherford and Shabazz were most noticeable) , there were Aviator stickers all of the place, with at least 20 of the 45 guys on the North roster wearing the Aviator logo.
Zion Frazier of Hackensack, however, who connected with Purdie on the first touchdown pass, was not one of them. The American International College bound player in fact, had no stickers.
“I like the gold with nothing on it,” Frazier stated. “I like that look.”
Mendez had only two stickers, although there were some Rutherford stickers to be seen.
“I kept it clean, just the NJIC teams, “ Mendez who is headed to Montclair State in the fall. “Just Rutherford and Heights.”
Not a bad duo to have. Two NJIC teams. One the North Group II Bowl Champion, one the NJIC Bowl champion, as well as North Group 1 Bowl champion.
NOTES: Purdie was primarily a decoy in the second and third quarters, getting no passes thrown his way. After the 84 yard touchdown in the first, he had a short reception on the second drive in the first quarter, and was overthrown leading to the first interception. In the fourth quarter, he caught three of four passes intended for him. He finished with 105 yards receiving on the game. ... Mendes had two receptions for 24 yards, but his big play was a long kick return in the second half. (Unfortunately, return yardage was not kept.) ... Frazier completed seven passes for 114 yards and had one touchdown and two interceptions.
Coaches: The honorary Head Coach for the North was former Giant offensive lineman David Diehl. The offense was coached by Kevin Batty, Owen Haveron, Ray Bowes, all of Verona, and Lamar McKnight of Union City. The defense was coached by Jamil Jackson, Hakeem Jackson, Michael Luna, Ibrahim Halsey, Joe Misura of Elizabeth and Sylvester Wright of Union City,
The South Team Honorary Coach was former Philadelphia Eagle Gary Cobb. Offensive coaches John Emel and Sam Ridgeway of Penns Grove, Terrance King and Kris Parker of Long Branch, and Dave Lepoidevin of Bound Brook. The Defense was coached by Jerry Schulte, Jeremy Schulte, Bill Legroteria, John Wagner and Mike Wagner of Rumson Fair Haven.
The Dave Szott North Offensive Player of the Game: Azhuan Dingle of Bayonne
The Jim Burt North Defensive Player of the Game: Christopher Stultz - East Orange
The Joe Theismann South Offensive Player of the Game; Prince Dru-Bey WInslow
The Jim Jeffcoat - South Defensive Player of the Game - Eric Cowan - Manchester Township
OFF TO SCHOOL: Purdie will be playing for Lackawanna College in the fall, while Mendez will attend Montclair State. Frazier will be attending American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts.
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