Lyndhurst quartet of grid standouts highlight Bergen All-Star Classic

Jordan DeAbreu knew that he was never going to get the opportunity to play organized football again.

Headed to Richard Stockton in the fall, a school that doesn’t have a football team, DeAbreu, the Lyndhurst High School senior, just figured that his football career was over.

DeAbreu played his final game when the Golden Bears’ season ended with a loss to eventual state champion Rutherford in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group II playoffs last November.

But then DeAbreu remembered that there was the Bergen County High School Football Coaches Association’s North-South All-Star Classic that is played every year.

“I really thought I was done,” DeAbreu said. “But then I remembered this game because it’s played on my home field in Lyndhurst.”

Nick Cutola is DeAbreu’s friend, classmate and football teammate. Cutola is also headed to Stockton in late August and will focus on trying to play baseball at his new school. So Cutola was in the same boat with DeAbreu, believing that his football days were over.

But Cutola also recalled the Bergen County All-Star game.

“I remember watching my friends that played in this game,” Cutola said. “I wanted to have the chance to do the same as them.”

Sure enough, both DeAbreu and Cutola had that opportunity to represent Lyndhurst one final time last Friday night, when they joined teammates Nick Frey and Nick Fitzgerald on the South All-Stars, a game that was played at Lyndhurst High School.

Although the South All-Stars were beaten, 21-7, there were really no losers in an All-Star game such as the Bergen County Classic. Old rivals became friends and teammates. It was a good experience everywhere you turned.

“I got the chance to be friendly with the Rutherford kids,” said Lyndhurst head coach Rich Tuero, who served as an assistant coach for the South All-Stars. “I was friendly with the New Milford kids. It’s always nice in a game like this to see the friendships that are developed from former rivals. It’s probably the best thing that comes from this game.”
Tuero gave credit to Lyndhurst Superintendent of Schools Shauna DeMarco and Lyndhurst High School Principal Laura Vuono for their assistance in securing the high school field for the All-Star Classic.

“I’m lucky to have an administration that backs a game like this,” Tuero said.

It helps that both administrators have backgrounds in football. DeMarco, who is leaving her post at Lyndhurst to take a similar slot in Tenafly, is the mother of Matthew DeMarco, the standout football player and wrestler at Lyndhurst and currently playing football at Montclair State, and Anthony DeMarco, who will be a sophomore on the football and wrestling teams next year.

Vuono is the daughter of Jim “Chizzie” Vuono, the former head football coach at Lyndhurst and current president of the Lyndhurst Board of Education.

Matthew DeMarco served as a coach on the South squad, along with Matt Schnoll, both of whom are still playing football at Montclair State.

“They helped us out and they were awesome,” Tuero said. “It was an honor and a privilege to coach in this game.”

Cutola was also ready to play football one last time. He was a wide receiver for the South squad.

“I was psyched,” Cutola said. “I’ve been playing football since I was four years old and now this is it. I feel like it’s the last chapter of a book. I’ve been playing flag football and loving it. I’m a little upset that it’s over, but this was a good ending. I played my last game on my home field. This is our home. It’s a little amazing when I look back and think of what I’ve done. I have no regrets. It was all worth it.”

While DeAbreu and Cutola were bemoaning the fact that their football careers were history, teammate Frey is excited about his opportunity to play at Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham.

“I’ve been away from football for seven months, but now I hopped right back into it,” said Frey, who played linebacker in the game and will be a linebacker at FDU-Florham. “I’ve already been training to get ready for college. I feel like I’m ready to play, so maybe I’ll have an advantage going into college.”

Frey was a “little bit surprised” that he was selected to play in the game.

“I didn’t think I had a good enough season to make this team,” Frey said. “I was surprised, but I was also excited. I wanted to show people that we can play football from little old Lyndhurst.”

Frey and Cutola have been teammates since grade school and now it’s over.

“That’s a little amazing,” Frey said. “We worked our tails off since we were little kids. This is our reward. It was a bit weird putting on the pads in the summer, but I got used to it and it was worth it.”

DeAbreu had mixed emotions.

“I’m really sad and happy at the same time,” DeAbreu said. “It’s good to go out like this with the people that I love.”

And as for playing in the game?
“I’m ready to go bite some ankles,” DeAbreu said. “I’m not the biggest guy, but I never let that stop me. This game is not a bad way to go out at all.”

“I love my kids to death,” Tuero said. “I’m so grateful to get the chance to coach them one more time.”

Brandon Torres of North Arlington was also selected to the South All-Stars, but declined to participate due to a shoulder injury.




A trio of Lyndhurst High School seniors, namely from left Jordan DeAbreu, Nick Cutola and Nick Frey, were selected to play in the annual Bergen County Football Coaches Association’s North-South All-Star Game, which was held last Friday night at Lyndhurst. Photo by Jim Hague




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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”