BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The seventh annual Basilone Bowl, which will be played Thursday, June 13 at Bridgewater-Raritan High School’s Basilone Field, is more than a football game – it is about character, teamwork and community, values exemplified by local hero John Basilone.
The coin toss will be at 6:45 p.m. and kick-off at 7 p.m.
Seven seniors from last year's state champion Somerville High School Pioneers will play in the game, along with nine seniors from Somervile's Immaculata High School Spartans.
Scott Bray, BRHS head football coach and president of the Somerset County Football Coaches Association, was instrumental in starting the Basilone Bowl. This year’s event will unite high school seniors from 13 Somerset County high schools as well as Delaware Valley and North Warren.
Players are nominated and selected based on athletic ability, academic success and character.
The support and involvement of the Marines has been an important part of the event from the beginning, celebrating Basilone, the most decorated Marine in history.
“Marine Corps is all about teams, we win as a team," said Marine Capt. Justin Frankel. " Excellence is not an act but a habit. Be that leader, be that role model. The one thing that trumps talent is character. Because of your talent, your dedication, your work ethic, that’s why you’re here. You embody those same characteristics.”
Bray, also a BRHS history teacher, includes lessons about Basilone in his classes. After receiving a Congressional Medal of Honor for serving in the WWII Battle of Guadalcanal, Basilone later re-enlisted in the Marines because he wanted to be on the front lines serving alongside his fellow officers.
Basilone lost his life at the Battle of Iwo Jima, and was posthumously honored with the Navy Cross.
“To play under the name John Basilone in the Basilone Bowl, it has to be a special thing," Bray said. "A hometown boy who decided ‘I need to go get involved with this for the greater good.’ As an athlete, it’s about that team, it’s about being the ultimate team player.”
BRHS seniors participating in the 2019 Basilone Bowl appreciate what that means. Long snapper Jake Maggio, playing football at the University of Maine in the fall, said “It is an honor to be selected to play in this game to represent the Bridgewater-Raritan High School football program, playing alongside and against lots of great talent in a game to honor a great hero from our hometown.”
Offensive lineman Robert Stashek, playing at Rowan University in the fall, said that playing in the event means a lot to him.
“What inspires me the most about John Basilone is that he did more than what was required," Stashek said. "He went back to war not because he had to, but because he wanted to.”
Alec Miseo, attending UMASS in the fall, said the game is a culmination of hard work, dedication and sacrifice.
"Basilone didn’t have to go back to war but he did," Miseo said. "He gave the ultimate sacrifice and showed endless amounts of courage.”
BRHS wide receiver Colton Rosseland is especially honored to be playing in the Basilone Bowl as he prepares to enlist in the Marines after graduation, attending Boot Camp at Parris Island in August.
“Playing the game is something that’s really honoring to be a part of, especially since John Basilone was such a big figure and he’s from our home town," he said. "Definitely something to be proud of to play under his name.”
One of seven siblings, Rosseland will be the first of his immediate family to join the Marines, following in the footsteps of his brother-in-law. For Rosseland’s mom, Wanda, it is a time of mixed emotions.
“I’m very excited for him, and very sad as a mom to let him go," she said. "He’s so excited, he cannot wait to go.”
Over six years, the event has raised over $35,000, benefiting the Basilone Memorial Foundation, founded by Don Tozzi of Raritan. The Foundation supports Robert Wood Johnson Cancer Center and Fisher House, a Virginia facility housing families of soldiers being treated at a nearby hospital.
The 2019 Basilone Bowl will be the first to include cheerleaders.
Another new feature is a Marine relay course taking place on the field at half time. Two male and two female students from each school will participate to earn points for their school toward the Marines Spirit Competition.
The Marines will present a plaque to the winning school.
“What speaks volumes about this game is that we’ve had many people turn down playing in the state all-star game to stay here and play in this game," Bray said. "The biggest thing is we want everyone to walk away that night feeling like they were part of something special."
2019 Devil Dogs
- Robert Stashek, BRHS
- Kyle Nickel, BRHS
- Alec Miseo, BRHS
- Colton Rosseland, BRHS
- Nick Balliro, BRHS
- Jake Maggio, BRHS
- Anthony Goffe, BRHS
- Greg Verano, BRHS
- Jake Walsh, Bernards
- Bryant Then, Bernards
- Ryan Bender, Bernards
- Todd Isenburg, Bernards
- PH Chisholm, Bernards
- Danny Leonti, Bernards
- Sam Cunningham, Bernards
- Matt Och, Bernards
- Jack Baulding, Pingry
- Zach Dobson, Pingry
- Peter Nicoletti, Pingry
- Joe Shilts, Pingry
- Nate Heffner, Pingry
- Tom Campbell, Pingry
- Isiah Solomon, Franklin
- George Amankwah, Jr., Franklin
- Shakuna Kamora, Franklin
- Daizjon Alexander, Franklin
- Ziare Hester, Franklin
- Zanithus Sullivan, Franklin
- Trejon Taylor, Franklin
- Ahmed Jaber, Franklin
- Al-Nasir Robinson, North Plainfield
- Jalen Davis, North Plainfield
- Nase’air Prince, North Plainfield
- Scott Almonte, North Plainfield
- Dan Palmer, North Warren
- Chris Susoglu, Watchung Hills
- Ethan Konicek, Ridge
- Tyler Vick, Ridge
2019 Leather Necks
- Quinn Androsko, Montgomery
- Jared Golubitsky, Montgomery
- Nick Losa, Montgomery
- Kyle Wierzbicki, Montgomery
- Ryan Turner, Montgomery
- J.J. Miller, Montgomery
- Dylan Boczon, Hillsborough
- Joe Lubas, Hillsborough
- Matt Popadiuk, Hillsborough
- Andrew Schemm, Hillsborough
- Tawe Tawe, Hillsborough
- Norman Washington, Hillsborough
- Tom Zdroik, Hillsborough
- Jason LaVigna, Delaware Valley
- Liam Miller, Delaware Valley
- Tyler Neal, Delaware Valley
- Jack Willard, Delaware Valley
- Jack Bender, Delaware Valley
- Kyle Carney, Delaware Valley
- Jake Norgard, Delaware Valley
- Lucas Romaine, Delaware Valley
- Zane Seal, Delaware Valley
- David Lepoidevin, Bound Brook
- Mason-Gage Horsburgh, Bound Brook
- Gavin Potts, Manville
- Gabe Van Buren, Manville
- Bohdan Tokar, Manville
- Joseph Ciempola, Somerville
- Markus Lauber, Somerville
- Quron Smith, Somerville
- Da’Shaun Smith, Somerville
- Bobby Wortman, Somerville
- Tyjir Williams, Somerville
- Tyler Cole, Somerville
- Christian Callahan, Immaculata
- Sulaiman Jalloh, Immaculata
- Tom Nargi, Immaculata
- Donaven Rivera, Immaculata
- Aiden Dolan, Immaculata
- Matt DiPietro, Immaculata
- Trevor Witzel, Immaculata
- Tamir Styles, Immaculata
- Patrick Fraunheim, Immaculata