WEST LONG BRANCH – Chase Stephensen, clutching an award, was surrounded by family and friends.
The recent Lacey Township High School graduate received hugs, handshakes and kisses at midfield after being named the Defensive Most Valuable Player of the game for the Ocean County All-Stars after their 17-8 loss to the Monmouth County All-Stars in the 40th annual All-Shore Gridiron Classic at Shore Regional.
“The award means I hopefully will have a lot of success when I play in college,” said Stephensen, who will play for Kutztown University. “The rest of the defense helped me a lot. My coaches put me in the right spots. The biggest things were to play in my last high school game in front of my family and friends, put on big hits and do my job.”
Stephensen played strong safety for Ocean.
“I had to cover the other team’s tight end,” he said.
With 3:14 left in the first half, Stephensen recovered a fumble at the Ocean 1-yard line.
“Nick Page (of Toms River South) knocked the ball loose and it was on the ground,” Stephensen said. “I saw it on the ground. A couple of guys dove for the ball and I pounced on it.”
Stephensen pounced on his chance to play for Kutztown.
“I talked to a couple of guys and they enjoyed it there,” he said. “They won their conference last year. When I visited the school, it felt like home to me. I went to a couple of camps there and I felt it was what college should feel like.”
Stephensen, a 6-foot, 215-pounder, played three years of varsity ball for the Lions under coach Lou Vircillo.
“It’s definitely sad to wear the Lacey helmet for the last time,” he said. “I have played football in Lacey since the age of seven, beginning in Pop Warner. I am excited for what’s ahead – college football. It was a privilege for me to play for Lacey and to play in this game.”
Ocean coach L.J. Clark, the Lakewood Piners’ mentor, said he enjoyed working with Stephensen, recruited as a hybrid linebacker-safety.
“He’s tough,” Clark said. “He brings it in every game. I saw him play in (Shore Conference) Class B South during the regular season last fall and he brings his hard hat to work. It was a pleasure to coach him this week. He’s a great kid. He’s a super competitor.”
Adi Palmer, who starred for Lakewood, was named Ocean’s Offensive Most Valuable Player after catching five passes for 55 yards. Marlboro running back Cameron Caorsi was honored as Monmouth’s Offensive Most Valuable Player after rushing for a Classic single-game record 179 yards and one touchdown on 26 carries, turning the artificial surface of Robert E. Feeney Field into a greyhound track. Caorsi will attend Brookdale Community College, which does not have a football team.
Keyport player Zach Frick was named Monmouth’s Defensive Most Valuable Player.
Monmouth, which led the game from start to finish, took a 6-0 lead with 1:49 left in the first quarter when running back Paul Reed of Asbury Park caught a 5-yard screen pass on the left sideline from St. John Vianney’s Matt DeGennaro. Freehold Township’s Tyler Schulman kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead after Monmouth drove 60 yards on 12 plays.
Schulman pushed the lead to 10-0 with a 29-yard field goal with 8:59 to go in the first half. Caorsi made it 16-0 with 10:44 left in the third quarter, scoring on a 3-yard touchdown run; Schulman’s PAT put Monmouth up 17-0.
Ocean sliced its deficit to 17-6 with 4:12 to go in the game when Anthony Costanza of Brick Township tossed a 12-yard touchdown pass to Hayden Frey of Point Pleasant Boro. Costanza connected on a pass to Central Regional’s Mike Bickford for the two-point conversion, producing the final score.
GRID GOSSIP: Caorsi broke the record of 161 yards set by Joe (The Jet) Henderson of Freehold in 1986.
Monmouth, which leads the series 21-18-1, snapped Ocean’s three-game winning streak.
Former Brick Township assistant coach Bob Spada and ex-Matawan mentor Butch Britton were inducted into the Shore Coaches Football Foundation Hall of Fame during a halftime ceremony. Spada was a part of 18 Brick championships. The SCFC presented the game.
The game’s public address announcer was Tommy Farrell, a former Monsignor Donovan (now Donovan Catholic) player.
“I can’t believe it’s been four years since I played in the same game and served as a captain for Ocean County,” the former Griffin said on his Facebook page.
Farrell’s father, Tom, is the superintendent of the Shore Regional High School District. He played and coached football for the Griffins. He coached football at New Egypt where he served as principal before becoming a Shore administrator. Young Farrell played football for the Griffins.
Carol Frank Brown and her husband, Donovan Brown, hosted a fettuccine dinner at their Brick home during the several days of practice prior to the game. It was for Brick players and their Ocean County teammates.
“It was so much fun to see them together as friends and not as foes!” Frank Brown said on her Facebook page. “Lots of laughs!! Go Ocean!!!”
Ocean assistant coach Len Zdanowicz Jr., the Brick Green Dragons’ mentor, participated in his sixth Classic with six of his players.
Zdanowicz Jr. played center for Ocean, representing the Green Dragons in 1990.
“I look back on the numerous friendships that I made with my ‘sworn enemies’ from neighboring towns and feel so grateful for the opportunity given to me by my coaches,” he said. “Thank you coach Wolf (Warren Wolf, then Brick’s head coach), Jim Calabro and Kevin Campbell (Brick assistant coaches).”
Monmouth: Reed 5 pass from DeGennaro (Schulman kick)
Monmouth: Schulman 29 field goal
Monmouth: Caorsi 3 run (Schulmann kick)
Ocean: Frey 12 pass from Costanza (Bickford from Costanza)
First downs: Ocean 9, Monmouth 13
Yards rushing: Ocean 26-54, Monmouth 48-218
Passes attempted: Ocean 15, Monmouth 19
Passes completed: Ocean 10, Monmouth 11
Passing yardage: Ocean 119, Monmouth 85
Intercepted by, return yardage: Ocean 0-0, Monmouth Hazard 2-0
Punts: Ocean 3-32, Monmouth 0-0
Penalties: Ocean 2-30, Monmouth 0-0
Fumbles: Ocean 2, Monmouth 1
Fumbles lost: Ocean 1, Monmouth 1
Individual rushing: Ocean: Costanza 15-48, Bickford 6-8, McCall 2-(-1),Cammarata 3-(-1). Monmouth: Caorsi 26-179, Catena 1-3, Reed 2-(-25), Pennell 8-25, Aleo 4-17, DeGennaro 2-3, Carnivale 1-1, Jamie IV 1-3, Scott 1-0, Hair 2-12
Individual passing: Ocean: Costanza 7-15-74-2, Cammarata 3-4-45-0. Monmouth: DeGennaro 4-8-24-0, Sullivan 2-2-21, Sabbagh 3-5-40-0
Individual receiving: Ocean: Palmer 5-55, Richardson 2-40, Bickford 1-6, Frey 2-18. Monmouth: Cacciatore 2-8, Sabbagh 3-40, Scott 1-7, DeGennaro 1-11, Hair 6-76, Reed 2-7.