UNION, N.J. -- Nick Recine, Joey Bellamy, Nasir Best, Charles Parker, and Jordin Martell, all recently graduated seniors from Piscataway High School, got to share the football field one last time as the quintet represented Middlesex County in the 2019 Autoland Classic on Thursday night at Kean University.
The five helped Middlesex to a 23-7 win. It is the second win in a row for Middlesex, which leads the all-time series 16-10. It has won 11 of the past 14 games.
“It was a huge honor to play with four of my teammates and the rest of Middlesex County for such a great cause,” said Bellamy, who played wide receiver. “We came in and we knew would we win. We were the better team. We pulled it out and it was fun.”
“There’s a lot of talent on both sides. Everybody’s good,” Parker added. “We’re all having fun. It’s for charity and for a better cause and I feel that’s what makes this game more exciting, fun, and special.”
Parker, who played on the offensive line had this game in the back of his mind for a long time.
“I was excited,” the 6-foot-3, 265-pounder said when told of the news he was selected to participate in the all-star contest. “I’ve wanted to play in this game since I really started playing football seriously. This was a dream. When coach texted me and I woke up and saw it, it was the best day of the year.”
Martell also joined Parker on the offensive line while Best spent time at cornerback and safety and Recine played linebacker on defense.
“It’s amazing because they’re all my best friends,” Parker said. “They’re some of my first friends I made when I moved to Piscataway in fifth grade from Franklin. To live my dream with my best friends, it’s awesome.”
While the five Chiefs didn’t do anything flashy, or score, or cause or turnover or anything like that in the game, they were, in some ways, the stars of the game. Last fall, Piscataway went 13-0, won the Greater Middlesex Conference - Red Division, the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 5 title, and the first-ever North, Group 5 Bowl Game championship. Bellamy, Parker, Martell, Recine, and Best were able to do some bragging with their teammates from around the county.
“It was really cool. We had a very magical season this year. We went 13-0 and to come out here and play with them again one more time, now we’re 14-0,” Bellamy said.
“A lot of the guys here from the GMC we played against so we had bragging rights over them because we beat them. It was fun.”
North Brunswick’s Aaron Ahr, who won the Most Valuable Player award, nailed field goals of 30 and 28 yards on Middlesex’s first two drives.
After Rahway’s Ja'Kir Robinson put Union up 7-6 with a touchdown with 10 seconds left before halftime, Ahr converted from 34 yards out to give Middlesex the lead for good at 9-7 with 3:19 remaining in the third quarter.
St. Joseph (Metuchen) running back Jordan Davis scored a 13-yard touchdown to widen Middlesex’s lead to 16-7 with 9:43 to go in the fourth. Union returned the ensuing kickoff into enemy territory, but Best, who fought through cramps all night long, was on the field with the rest of the defense, which got a stop on fourth-down.
“It was my last opportunity to ball out in the state of New Jersey before I went to Millersville in Pennsylvania. I wanted to have an impact on the game, but it wasn’t meant for me to have a field day,” Best said. “Playing with cramps is never fun. I need to do a better job of hydrating myself and staying warmed up.”
Middlesex held Union to just over 150 yards of offense. Middlesex had 314.
“We had energy,” Best said. “We had four monsters on the d-line and then (Union) had to play against one of the fastest group of linebackers. It would have to be hard for anybody to just run past us.”
Aside from the game and practices, members of the Middlesex football team and the cheerleaders went to the Lakeview School in Edison, a program of the New Jersey Institute for Disabilities.
“It was a good experience,” Parker said. “I liked interacting with the students there. They opened my eyes to a lot of different things. I needed it. It was a good experience and I’m glad I went.”
Added Bellamy: “It was a very good experience. It really makes you grateful for everything you have in life. It puts everything into perspective and makes you want to do more to help people as you get older.”
Shayla Benbow and Dana Washington represented the PHS cheerleaders and head football coach Dan Higgins received the Middlesex County Coach of the Year award at halftime as well.
Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisWasky.
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