Recruiting Scheme or Complicated High School Football Game?

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ANN ARBOR – The teams travelled by bus and watched the University of Michigan and Hawaii game on Saturday. This was the first game ever at Michigan Stadium between two out-state high schools. The real eye-opener was that the two out-of-state high school teams played their Friday evening game at the University of Michigan Stadium.

Paramus Catholic (N.J.) defeated Baltimore (Maryland) St. Francis Academy, 38-20. The game was televised nationally on ESPNU.

Michigan’s football team is heavily recruiting two Paramus Catholic players, linebacker Drew Singleton and defensive lineman Corey Bolds. Singleton was all over the field recording 11 tackles. Paramus Catholic quarterback Andrew Brito threw two second half touchdowns to cement the win. He also ran for three scores.

St. Francis Academy led at halftime, 14-13. Paramus Catholic made a slow comeback and ate up the second-half clock. For the winners Alijah Jackson and Jon Clark each rushed for over 100-yards.

paramus catholic team banner.
Paramus Catholic team banner.

On the sidelines Bolds said that it was great having the Michigan (from N.J.) players come down and talk to us after the game.

About playing at Michigan Stadium, Singleton said, “It was everything. It was like heaven. The lights, the seats, everything, the colors. Can’t do anything but love it.” Regarding the bus ride from New Jersey he said, “I love these guys (teammates). We’ll cheer on Michigan tomorrow like they cheered on us.”

Steve Kanoc, Paramus Catholics’ new head football coach said, “I’ve been here six times now,” he said of Ann Arbor and Michigan. “It’s a great place to be. Our kids fit in so well from the way we run our system into how they run things here. There’s a natural comfort level because things are so similar. The parents feel it, too, when they get to experience it. For our guys who have the opportunity to be here, it’s truly a natural fit and has been.”

It was a home game for Paramus and it was reported they rented the stadium for $3,300 and charged $5 for tickets. The crowd was sparse.

Commentary

Everything about this game was wrong. Especially the comments by Paramus Catholic High School president James Vail said to justify the 10 hour bus ride each way. When talking about his relationship with the University of Michigan football program Vail said, “There’s all these very interesting conspiracy theories.” He further said, “I’ve had the honor to get to know Coach Harbaugh. I have great, great respect for him. We don’t talk about football … I’m not really a football guy. I’m just an old religion teacher.”

University of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was seen watching from the sidelines, and former Paramus Catholic and current Michigan players Jabrill Peppers and Rashan Gary were seen the bench.

This was a recruiting trip disguised as a high school football game with complicated logistics. If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck … it is a duck.

In June, Harbaugh was commencement speaker at the school’s graduation ceremony. This was after U-M hosted one of their satellite camps at Paramus Catholic within the same month. Chris Partridge, U of M’s linebacker/special teams assistant was Paramus Catholics’ previous head coach.

Vail met Michael Jordan during his visit to Michigan. Is he so enamored with celebrities that he destroys the credibility of his high school. Aren’t there quality opponents in New Jersey? Secondary schools are not minor league franchises. Is it really good to nationally televise high school contests?

This is not a healthy or fitting relationship. Vail (high school principal), Stephanie Macaluso, associate principal, Kanoc, Paramus Catholics’ new head football coach and Scott Langan, director of athletics, should reexamine their actions. They also need immediate supervising and an intervention from the Archdiocese of Newark and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Sportsmen agree to rules and abide by them. The spirit of the rules should be enough and coaches should honor them. The buck stops with the principal (president). This is a problem when the principal-president is blind to rules and ethics.

Raymond Rolak is a veteran sports broadcaster who writes on a range of sporting events, plus automotive and aviation topics of interest.