A balanced and talented group of running backs are expected to carry the load for Middlesex County when Snapple Bowl XXIV is staged July 20.
This annual July all-star football game between Middlesex County and Union County will be played at Kean University in Union. The game, which attracts the top recently graduated high school players from both counties, will kick off at 7 p.m.
Once again, two organizations will be the beneficiaries of the proceeds raised from the game: Children’s Specialized Hospital of Mountainside and the Lakeview School for Cerebral Palsy in Edison. The Lakeview School is a program of the New Jersey Institute for Disabilities.
Union County will donate its proceeds to the Children’s Specialized Hospital and Middlesex County will give its proceeds to the Lakeview School.
Middlesex County seeks to improve on its winning record in this all-star game. Middlesex leads the all-time series with a 14-9 record.
According to the offensive coordinator for Middlesex County, Joe Vigilante, the team plans to use the “incredible” athletes they have at the running back position to help with a balanced attack.
“We have four guys on our depth chart at that position,” said Vigilante, who is the head coach at Bishop George Ahr High School. “We’re going to use all of them during the game as both rushers and slot receivers.”
The Middlesex backfield will run often behind backs Andrew Brazicki of Bishop Ahr, Carlton Coleman of Monroe Township High School, Michael Liberti of Sayreville War Memorial High School and Quartius Byrd of Carteret High School.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Brazicki said. “It is incredible to able to come together with all these amazing players.”
Brazick, who stands 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 210 pounds, wants to take advantage of the opportunity before heading off to Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts.
“I just want to play hard,” Brazicki said. “We’re all-stars. We should be able to do what we need to do to win.”
Both Coleman, who is 5 feet 10 inches tall and 200 pounds, and Liberti, who is 5 feet 10 inches and 175 pounds, will attend Rowan University in Glassboro this coming fall. The two are excited to start their careers as teammates with their play in the Snapple Bowl.
“It’s really an honor to be here with all the guys on my team,” Coleman said. “It’s great to be out here with all these all-stars. I expect to go out there and win the game. I’m going to go out and give it all out there for for my team and do whatever it takes to get the victory.”
Liberti hopes to make his community proud. He helped do his part this past fall when Sayreville won the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association North Jersey, Section II, Group IV title.
“To say it’s an honor is an understatement,” Liberti said. “With all the past history and all the past players that’s played here, I just want to represent my town the best I can.”
As far as expectations, Liberti kept it simple.
“I just want to have fun,” he said. “I want to meet new players and win the game. That’s what this game is all about.”
Vigilante hopes that the diversity in styles that his running back core presents will allow him to be extra creative in his play calls.
“We have a few new wrinkles that we’re going to add in,” Vigilante said. “I can’t fully explain them now, but come to the game, you’ll see them on full display.”