By Brett Carroll
The Monmouth County all-stars rolled behind a record-setting rushing performance and a sturdy defense to ring up a 17-8 victory over Ocean County in the 40th annual All-Shore Gridiron Classic at Shore Regional High School in West Long Branch.
Monmouth County’s attack on the evening of June 29 was guided by running back Cameron Caorsi, who rushed for 168 yards, a Gridiron Classic record. The 5-foot-10, 190-pounder from Marlboro High School also scored a touchdown and was named the Offensive MVP for Monmouth County.
“It was a great feeling,” said Caorsi, who will attend Brookdale Community College this fall. “I’m honestly speechless, really. Getting the record and getting the win is an amazing feeling.”
The previous record was 161 yards by Freehold High School’s Joe Henderson in 1986. Caorsi had 92 rushing yards in the first half and added an additional 76 yards, including his 3-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, in the second half.
“We were pretty confident going into the game,” Caorsi said. “Honestly, I thought we were going to pass the ball a lot more, but they kept giving me the rock, and I was proving what we could do as a team.”
Caorsi didn’t plan on setting any records heading into the game, but once he found out he had a shot at history, he was more than happy to go for it.
“I didn’t even know about the record until coach told me on the sideline,” Caorsi said. “He told me I needed one more yard to get the record, so I was like ‘I’ll get it. I’ll get more than one yard.’ ”
Caorsi wasn’t the only offensive player for Monmouth County that made an impact. His running mate, Vito Aleo from Raritan High School, also played well.
“It felt amazing to represent Monmouth County in front of everybody,” Aleo said. “It felt great to get a chance to play. It’s my last game as a senior. I just wanted to get a couple good runs in, and I did that.”
Aleo also had high praise for Caorsi.
“It was pretty awesome watching him get the record,” Aleo said. “Cam’s a very good running back. He’s going to do big things. I’m glad I got the chance to be his teammate.”
The victory by Monmouth County snapped a three-game winning streak by the Ocean County team and increased Monmouth County’s lead in the series, 21-18-1.
“I’m pretty sure Ocean’s won three times in a row leading up to this,” Aleo said. “It feels good to win it back.”
Aleo, at 5 feet 8 inches tall and 195 pounds, will play football at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire in the fall.
As great as the offense was for Monmouth County, it was the dominance of the defense that won the game. Led by the game’s Defensive MVP Zach Frick, the defense thwarted the Ocean County offense, pitching a shutout until the final few minutes of the game.
“It was kind of disappointing [losing the shutout],” the defensive lineman from Keyport High School said. “We came out on top though, so that’s all that matters.”
Frick was grateful for being able to play in the game.
“It felt pretty great,” Frick said. “I’ve never had an opportunity like this before. I went through a pretty bad knee injury that could have ended my career, but we pulled together as a team, so it was great.”
Frick was motivated and confident going into the game.
“My mindset was just to beat everyone out there,” Frick said. “I was little out of shape, and my knees were kind of giving out at the end, but I stayed in there … It’s all for the love of the game.”
Frick had a fumble recovery and two sacks in the game. He was a part of a dominant defensive line that made plays in the backfield all night. However, Max Hazard, the defensive back from Red Bank Catholic High School, could have just as easily won the MVP award after recording two interceptions in the game.
“I felt pretty good,” Hazard said. “I was going for MVP, but it didn’t work out. It’s all right, though. I had two thrown right to me, so it was cool.”
Frick playfully offered his condolences for him winning the MVP instead.
“I’m sure he’s fine,” Frick said. “I obviously came out on top. I mean, he’s a skinny guy and I’m a big guy. Big men are supposed to come out on top.”
Hazard is 6 feet 2 inches tall and 185 pounds, while Frick is 6 feet 4 inches tall and 290 pounds.