Belleville football trio gets to end HS career at home in Robeson Classic

Tayshawn Holland

After a trying senior season in which they went just 1-9, all Belleville’s Melrich Almonte, Angelo Dorainvil and Tayshawn Holland wanted was a chance to play one more high school football game.

On Tuesday, June 13, the three of them got the chance to represent the blue and gold one more time and do it on their home field as they represented the East Team in the 29th Paul Robeson All-Star Football Classic in Belleville.

Even though the East team lost 13-10 on a touchdown by former Buccaneer Brent Rojas with 17 seconds to go, it did little to dampen the spirits of the three current Belleville seniors.

“It meant a lot to play with my other two boys, especially having the season that we had this year, it just felt good,” said Almonte, an offensive lineman, who will play at Montclair State this fall. “Even though we came out with the L, it still felt good to play one more time on this field.”

“(This season) didn’t go how I wanted it to go as a team,” added Dorainvil, who will play outside linebacker at William Paterson. “I’m happy I got this second chance to redeem myself. Unfortunately, it didn’t go the way I wanted it to, but it was a good game.”

While the experience meant a lot to Almonte and Dorainvil, the ability to play one more high school game took an even larger meaning for Holland, who will play defensive end at WIlliam Paterson. Unlike the others, Holland’s season came to a premature end due an injury on Oct. 7 vs. Nutley that forced him to miss the final three games, including Belleville’s 40-22 win over North Bergen in the last game.

“It was good to be here again for one last ride especially with how my season ended (early) because I got injured on this field,” Holland said. “It felt good to come back and just play again.

“I had to play one more game before I get up out of here.”

Despite the lack of team success, all three two-way starters had solid senior seasons individually. Dorainvil finished tied for the team in tackles for loss (10) and sacks (two) to go with 39 tackles. Almonte recorded 26 tackles and Holland had 13. All three also started on a Belleville offensive line that helped pave the way for sophomore running back Jeremiah Cook’s 1,149 rushing yards on the year.

In Tuesday’s All-Star Classic, both Almonte and Holland were on the offensive line, while Dorainvil was an edge rusher for the East.

Tuesday’s game also featured three players from Bloomfield in receiver Nate Brown, defensive back Zaire LaRue and defensive lineman CJ Francois.

Normally, the Paul Robeson All-Star Football Classic is held in East Orange at Robeson Field. But after the turf field at East Orange was deemed unplayable, the game was moved to Belleville.

“When it got moved here I was just mad excited,” Dorainvil said. “My mom was able to come down because it’s a short drive. Everybody that loves me got to see me play. It was amazing.

“I was excited when I got the message that I was playing in this game. I almost cried. Having one more high school game was very important to me.”

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Jason Bernstein | Observer Sports Writer

Jason Bernstein joined The Observer as its sports writer in March 2022, following the retirement of Jim Hague. He has a wealth of sports-writing experience, including for NJ Advance Media (, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)