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Old Tappan’s Zach DeNike Leads North Over South In 2016 Bergen County All-Star Game

(Photo by Catalina Fragoso - Double G Media)

(Photo by Catalina Fragoso – Double G Media)


Zach DeNike of Old Tappan said after the game ever since he was a kid he wanted to play in the Bergen County All-Star Football Game. This year, DeNike’s wish was granted, and he made the most of it.

DeNike put on a show, scoring two highlight-reel touchdowns leading the North to a 33-26 win over the South and was named Offensive MVP. Matt Wisnovsky of Indian Hills was named defensive MVP

“I thought it was pretty well played well game by both teams’ considering the short time we had to practice,” said North Head Coach Mike Alberque. “Our kicker (Paul Mokrzycki-Ramapo) was pretty good going 3-for-3 on extra points and kicked two field goals and helped us out quite a bit and part of the edge that helped us out with field position throughout the game.”

“Garcia from Pascack Hills and O’Brien from Indian Hills both played well and had two TD’s apiece,” Alberque continued. “DeNike is pretty special and his closing speed was excellent. Coach Baeira from Hasbrouck Heights and coach Campanile who is up at DePaul now did a great job with the offense.”

After the South went up 12-10 with 8:29 in the 3rd quarter on a six-yard touchdown pass from Alex Victorino of Garfield to Brandon Ricketts of Elmwood Park, the North regained the lead quickly on 1st and 10 from their own 28 as Nick Garcia of Pascack Hills (86 rushing yards, 106 passing yards) hit DeNike in stride down the left sidelines for an electrifying 72 yard score. The two-point conversion was unsuccessful leaving the score at 16-12.

“I have known Nick Garcia since I was young and a great athlete,” said Zach DeNike. “We practiced that particular play during practice all week long and we knew if we timed it perfectly it was six automatically. It was a great play call, line blocked amazingly and a beautiful throw by Nick.”

“Zach was open literally every time and he is a really good player that will make you pay,” said Garcia. “That was a big momentum changer during the game and once that happened the whole sideline got fired up and we just kept the ball rolling. A great experience you will never have a time like this again so it’s something I will never forget and playing with my high school buddies is a memory I will have forever.”

The North defense stepped up forcing the South to punt and got the ball back at their own 45 with 6:44 remaining. On a 3rd and 9 from the South 33, Garcia rolled out and fired a 29- yard pass to Derek Anderson of Indian Hills setting up first and goal at the 4. From there Brian Kearns of St. Joseph Regional did the rest barreling ahead for the score making it 23-12. DeNike added his second score of the night 36 seconds into the 4th quarter on 54 yard aerial bomb from Tim O’Brien of Indian Hills down the right sidelines increasing the margin to 30-12.

“I had the opportunity to play against O’Brien and he is an amazing player and threw a perfect pass,” said DeNike.

However, the South would not go away quietly in the 4th with Alex Victorino connecting with Brandon Ricketts for a second on a 40-yard strike in the back of the end zone with five minutes remaining. The two-point conversion was no good as the South trailed 33-18. Mike-Manzo Lewis made the game real interesting with 6 seconds left heaving a 38-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Ryan Lortz of Saddle Brook. On the two-point play, Derius Stone of St. Mary turned a botched snap into a score eluding several defenders before slithering his way in trimming the deficit to 33-26. The South attempted the onside kick but the North recovered the ball icing the game.

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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