They played the first one in 1978 on the infield of a race car track.  Nobody really knew what to expect but they came by the thousands,m any in buses provided by local school districts. 

Those days are long gone and times have changed, even the name of the game.  However tonight a summer tradition continues at the Jersey Shore as for the 36th time recently graduated football players from Ocean County play their rivals from Monmouth County.   Presented by the Shore Football Coaches Foundation the U.S. Army All Shore Gridiron Classic will kick off tonight at Toms River North, who will host the game for a record ninth time.

The game was the brainchild of former Asbury Park Press sports editor Dick Brinster and that first one played at Wall Stadium brings back fond memories.

The lighting was terrible, goal posts were crooked and officials were picking up lug nuts throughout the game.  It might have been a racetrack but that night more than 8,000 people showed up to see who really played better football: Ocean County or their brothers to the north.  Brick’s Warren Wolf coached Ocean to a 21-7 victory with the help of Toms River North defensive lineman George Scribelitto who picked off a lateral and ran it back for the clinching touchdown in the 4th quarter.

The series has gone back and forth over the years and Monmouth enters tonight’s game with a 19-15 lead with the 2006 game ending in a tie when there was no overtime plan which there is now.  Monmouth won easily last year 28-7 and as often is the case they are considered solid favorites tonight.

Colts Neck’s Greg LaCava has a squad that includes Neptune quarterback Ajee Patterson, Long Branch running back Jocil Jackson and defensive standouts like Matawan’s Dan Incle and Manny Maragoto of Freehold Township.  Ocean County head Coach John Wagner of Point Pleasant Beach will count on several of the Garnett Gulls who led his team to a 10-1 season last fall, among them Danny Tighe, Kyle Samaritano, Andre Cochran and Quinn Kusma.

Brick Memorial quarterback Ryan Cieplinksi has emerged as an offensive leader while on the other side of the ball defensive end Dan Watson of Brick will try and slow down the Monmouth attack.

Kickoff is 7pm tonight and our Shore Sports Network will broadcast the game on 105.7 The Hawk and with Matt Harmon, Ed Sarluca and yours truly handling the call. The game can be heard online at and