The 33rd annual New Jersey Scholastic Football Coaches Association’s North-South All-Star Classic took place Monday night at Kean University. Three local products, Dane Longa of St. Peter’s Prep, Ronald Butler of Lincoln and Jidamon Sparkman of St. Anthony, graced the North squad.
All three played major defensive roles for the North, which unfortunately dropped a 21-14 decision. Longa played defensive tackle and made three tackles. Butler was a member of the secondary and Sparkman played linebacker.
For Longa, it was a chance to get a head start on college, because he will attend Kean in the fall and play football there.
“It felt good to be out there,” Longa said. “I’m a little upset about the outcome, but it was fun meeting a new group of guys who became my teammates. It was fun to become part of a team in such a short period of time.”
Longa arrived at Kean last Friday night and had one practice session then, but had to endure three practice sessions on Saturday and two more on Sunday.
“It was pretty tough, but I worked my way through it,” Longa said. “After the second practice on Saturday, I was definitely sore in the legs. I think a lot of us were hurting, but we managed to push each other to get mentally ready.”
Longa roomed at Kean with Tiaquan Womack of Plainfield and the two hit it off, reminding each other of a scrimmage two years ago where they faced each other.
“He’s a good guy and very funny,” Longa said. “We bonded well right away. We spoke about that scrimmage and had a few laughs, talking about throwing each other around a little. It was a good laugh.”
Longa also had a good time with his line coach, namely Morristown head coach Chris Hull.
“He was joking around with me and had a good sense of humor,” Longa said. “I liked that.”
Longa said that participating in the All-Star Classic was an honor.
“It really was a great experience,” Longa said. “I wish I could do it all over again. I got a lot of playing time, more than I expected. I liked being out there. I think it definitely helped me get ready for college. I was out there with the best players in the state. I’m able to get some experience before I go to Kean.” …
Speaking of St. Peter’s Prep, head baseball coach Kevin Wendolowski announced his resignation as expected after two seasons. Wendolowski was former long-time Prep coach Joe Urbanovich’s top assistant for nine years prior to Urbanovich’s retirement after the 2009 season. Wendolowski gave his all as a head coach, but it wasn’t a good fit. The search has already begun for Wendolowski’s replacement…
There’s plenty of news to report regarding local professional boxers. First, North Bergen resident Danny McDermott is headed to Atlanta July 16 to fight for the World Boxing Union lightweight title. McDermott has endured some ups and downs in recent years, but now he’s getting a chance to fight for a belt. He has a champion in his corner in former IBF world junior middleweight champ Mark Medal of Jersey City. Medal, the Hudson County Hall of Famer and former Jersey City police officer, has been training with McDermott.
Jersey City’s Jose “Mangu” Peralta Alejo has signed on with Main Events promotions. Alejo has been training with former Arturo Gatti ring men Pat Lynch (manager) and Mike Skowronski (trainer), so Alejo has good connections.
North Bergen resident Mariusz Wach is in training to take on Kevin McBride in a heavyweight bout at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut July 29. McBride recently lost to former Jersey City resident and heavyweight contender Tomasz Adamek a few months ago. Another North Bergen-based heavyweight Artur Szpilka, a native of Poland like Wach and Adamek, will fight on the card at Mohegan Sun as well.
And Butch Sanchez’ stable of South American boxers from North Bergen are all training for a card in Paterson July 16, a card that will feature former world flyweight champion Carlos Tamara.
The local boxers are definitely keeping busy….—Jim Hague Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.