Area football players finish careers in local all-star games

For the majority of the players that took the field at Lyndhurst High School, Saturday’s Bergen County All-Star game would be the last football game they would ever play.

So while the game ended with the South team, which featured a strong contingent of Observer-area players, losing 20-17 on a late field goal, their thoughts leaving the field at Lyndhurst were largely ones of nostalgia as they set to start the next journey in their lives.

In total, eight players from Lyndhurst and three from North Arlington played in the game, the 24th edition.

“This definitely is a night to remember,” Lyndhurst offensive lineman Nick Adamo said. “We’re going to tell our kids about this when we’re older. It’s just an awesome overall experience.”

“Playing with the guys once again, it’s the best thing in the world. I’m going to miss this a lot,” said Lyndhurst receiver/kicker Cameron Werner. “It was a great experience, a great event. I wish I could do it again, but I can’t. That’s what makes (this game) so good.”

The South team trailed 17-0 in the third quarter before mounting a furious comeback. Down 17-7, North Arlington quarterback Sean McGeehan connected with teammate Ian Crudele for a 17-yard fade down to the 1-yard line. McGeehan then kept it for a 1-yard touchdown on the next play.

Later, in the fourth, Werner tied the game at 17-all with a 29-yard field goal with 8:49 remaining.

For Werner, Adamo, Isaiah Lopez, Michael Rizzo, Anthony Pizzuti, Shane Keeler and Jake Herman, it was their last time playing football. Of the Lyndhurst contingent, only defensive end Conor Gill (Alvernia) is playing college football, while Pizzuti will play baseball at Brookdale.

All three of North Arlington’s selections are set to play in college as McGeehan is going to Rowan, Crudele to Salve Regina and lineman Jose Rodriguez is going to Lycoming.

For Lopez in particular, the opportunity to take the field one last time was especially meaningful. On Sept. 30, Lopez suffered a torn ACL against Waldwick, ending his senior season and presumably his career. The opportunity to play one more time was one Lopez wasn’t going to pass up and served as a motivator for him during the rehab process.

“It means so much to me to even be here right now,” said Lopez. “For most people, the recovery process is nine months, 10 months, maybe even a year. I came back in eight, and I ended up playing. It was with a brace, but I ended up playing in another game and I’m just greatful.”

“The reason we do all this is for the kids,” said Lyndhurst head coach Rich Tuero, who has been prominently involved in the Bergen County All-Star Game for more than a decade. “Just knowing that these guys get one more opportunity to play one last game on the field, that’s what it’s all about. That’s why we get these extra guys from Lyndhurst. That’s why I do this, honestly and these (coaches) volunteer to give these kids an opportunity.”

Also last week, the 30th Paul Robeson All-Star Classic, which features players from six counties, including Essex and Hudson, was held at Belleville High School. In that game, won by the West, 23-12, Bloomfield QB Trevor Frantantoni threw two touchdown passes for the East. Belleville receiver Khalil Bey had more than 25 yards of total offense for the East, which also featured Bloomfield defensive back Johnny Nichol.

Bloomfield defensive end Will Cordero was selected to and played in the Phil Simms NJ North-South Game, which was held at Kean on March 9. Both Cordero and Frantantoni will be playing at Montclair State and Nichol will continue his career at William Paterson.

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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.)