By Tim Kelly
Wiffle balls and Frisbees — Ocean City’s normal summer projectiles — will have some competition on Friday night. Footballs will be flying through the airspace above Carey Stadium at Ocean City High School for a unique pre-season scholastic grid event.
The host Red Raiders, coming off two straight appearances in the state football playoffs, will welcome five other powerhouse programs for the Youth Gridiron Academy-sponsored “7-on-7” event, free and open to the public from 4 to 7 p.m.
The contest will pit the teams’ offenses in passing drills against the opposing school’s defenses. Anyone who spectates at a football practice or training camp will tell you the 7-on-7 drills are among the most entertaining things to watch.
Carey Stadium is an attraction in its own right for the visiting teams and coaches, with its picturesque setting just steps off the beach and Boardwalk. Its home squad went 4-6 last year, a misleading record considering its Division mark of 3-2 in the West Jersey Football League, two losses by margins of less than a touchdown, and its second straight playoff appearance.
“It should be a great event,” Ocean City Head Coach Kevin Smith said in an e-mail. “It will showcase some of the most talented football players in the region.”
In addition to the Raiders, high school fans will have the opportunity to see student-athletes from five other outstanding programs:
Haddonfield: The Bulldogs are the defending Group II South Jersey champions.
Cedar Creek: Playoff qualifiers in the last four consecutive seasons and the 2015 South Jersey Group II champs.
Clearview: The Pioneers were runners up in the Group IV playoffs in 2018.
Salem: Authors of a 42-15 record over the last five years, the Rams were Group I playoff runners up in 2016.
Millville: The always tough Thunderbolts won the South Jersey Group IV crown in 2016.
Fans attending the event will be able to purchase concessions, and a professional DJ will be on hand to add some music into the afternoon-into-evening excitement.
Also expected will be coaches from college programs and media representatives eager to see many of the area’s top returning high school players at the same location.
“We hope everyone will come out and enjoy some great summer football,” Smith said.
The event’s sponsor, Youth Gridiron Academy, is affiliated with NFL FLAG and NFL Play 60, the pro football league’s health and fitness campaign.
For more information on Youth Gridiron Academy and its local events and programs, visit www.yganj.com or call 609-892-5443.