Eric Shorter only made one catch for six yards but he was all smiles after the 16th Annual Sunshine Football Classic all-star game last Thursday evening.
For recently graduated Princeton High star receiver Shorter, helping the West squad to 16-6 victory was his main focus.
“It was great; the West side hasn’t won in five years so I feel like it is a little start for them next year,” said Shorter, who celebrated the win afterward with family and friends on a corner of the field at The College of New Jersey.
“The quarterbacks wanted to spread the ball out as much as possible which is fine. As long as we got the win, that was good for me.”
As the team went through practice over the last week, Shorter could sense that the players were coming together.
“There was a lot of friendship going around,” said Shorter, who made 49 catches for 1,052 yards and 10 touchdowns last fall for PHS and is headed to Monmouth University where he will be joining the football program.
“There was a lot of picking each other up. Even though we don’t know each other that much, it was kind of a bonding session.”
Shorter got to deepen his bonds with PHS teammates Jeff Barsamian and Alex Mitko, who also played on the West squad.
“That was special; we are going our separate ways after high school so it was good to play with each other,” said Shorter of the Penn-bound Barsamian and the Hamilton College-bound Mitko.
Barsamian. for his part, was glad to take the field one more time with Shorter and Mitko.
“That was a lot of fun; I didn’t expect to ever play with them again,” said Barsamian.
“It was a nice surprise when I found out I would be playing in this game and be able to play with them again,”
Barsamian liked playing with West quarterback Ray Mastroianni of Bridgewater-Raritan, who rushed for 70 yards and passed for 88 in getting named the game’s Most Valuable Player on an evening which saw the West build a 16-0 lead and outgain the East 383 yards to 162.
“He was a playmaker,” said Barsamian of Mastroianni. “I was trying to hold the blocks as long as I could and he was just zipping by all the way down the field.”
Like Shorter, Barsamian could sense that the West team was hungry coming into the contest, having not won since a 14-6 triumph in the 2007 game.
“The coaches were bringing up that the West hasn’t won in five years so I think that was on everyone’s mind,” said Barsamian.
“Everyone stepped it up, trying to get that ‘W.’ Coach Smith [WW/P-S head coach Todd Smith] is a funny guy. He really brought the team together. He had a lot of fun with us the past week.”
As Shorter heads to Monmouth in early August to start his college career, he is looking forward to a fun experience.
“The coaching staff was very nice; I met Miles Austin [former Monmouth standout and current Dallas Cowboys starting receiver] which was a big thing,” said Shorter. “I am going to be a wide receiver; they would like me to start freshman year.”