GLASSBORO -- The Adam Taliaferro Foundation All-Star Football Classic serves not only as a major fundraiser for individuals who have suffered catastrophic spinal cord injuries, but as a reunion of sorts for Collingswood’s Will Pope and Sterling’s Jahquan "J.T." Thompson as well.
Pope and Thompson, recent high school graduates, were not only fierce competitors the past two seasons in Colonial Conference Liberty Division football games between the two schools, but were former long-time teammates with the Bellmawr Purple Eagles of the Tri-County Midget Football League up through eighth grade.
The two talented linemen, both members of the White Roster, gave each other high fives when they met during Sunday’s check-in at Rowan University, and you have to wonder how good these two all-stars will be now that they are teammates once again.
“We will go out there and be a major force,” predicted Thompson, who will play at Seton Hill University (Pa.) this fall. “We had a great chemistry going when we were in the midgets, and we should be good to go out here on Wednesday night.”
Pope, a hulking 6-4, 260-pound defensive lineman who will play football at Widener University, is also psyched for the reunion.
“We were great as teammates, and we’ll give the Blue team a run for the money,” he said. “This is awesome to be on JT’s team one more time before going off to college, and it’s great to help raise money for Adam’s cause.”
The 25th Annual Adam Taliaferro Foundation All-Star Football Classic between the White and Blue teams will be held at Rowan University’s Richard Wackar Football Stadium Wednesday, July 1, starting at 7 p.m. About 4,000 to 5,000 fans have annually attended the event, which serves as the ATF’s major fundraiser each summer and features South Jersey’s top high school seniors from the previous fall.
The Foundation, chaired by former Penn State football player Adam Taliaferro, assists individuals in the tri-state area who have suffered catastrophic spinal cord injuries. Adam suffered a spinal cord injury while playing for PSU in a game against Ohio State in 2000, but following surgery and rehabilitation, recovered about a year later when he walked out of Magee Rehabilitation in Philadelphia under his own power. He is now a New Jersey Assemblyman who also works for a major pharmaceutical company.
Gloucester Catholic linebacker Brian Bohrer, meanwhile, got the call to play in Wednesday’s game when a roster spot opened up last month. The GC graduate, who will soon begin an apprenticeship with a local iron union and will later attend Rowan College at Gloucester County, is excited about the opportunity. He will join his high school teammate, running back Dan Petito, on the roster, as the two friends checked in for camp together on Sunday.
“I’ve lined up against many of these guys and they are great players,” Bohrer said. “This is a great atmosphere, and a great cause. You can bet I’ll be going all out on the field for this one since it is my final football game ever.”
While Pope, Thompson, and Bohrer were happy to be selected for the White Roster, head coach John Adams was still getting over a case of the jitters as he welcomed his team Sunday during registration.
“I’ve seen quite a few of these kids play, so I’m sure coaching them will be a lot of fun,” said Adams, who has compiled a 34-19 record and an appearance in the South Jersey Group 2 title game while coaching Woodstown’s program. “It’s an honor to coach in this game, but a little nerve wracking at the same time. I know once we begin practice, we’ll get rid of the butterflies.”
Reach Gus Ostrum at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Episode 33 of The South Jersey Sports Digest Show delves into the raging controversy surrounding the NJSIAA proposal of a separate Non-Public conference for high school football. Our guest, Phil Anastasia of the Philadelphia Inquirer breaks it all down and explains some reasons why the Non-Public schools in the South Jersey region are opposing this concept.
We have a quick report on Clearview's win over Washington Twp. in the 8th annual Gloucester County Cup boys' lacrosse championship game
Also, we honor our SJSD/Total Turf Athletes of the Week:
Finally, we take a peek at a highlight package from the 32nd playing of the Arena/Rifkin Golf Tournament. Check it all out.
Established in 1910, Collingswood High School has more than 100 years of history and tradition behind it and the students and student-athletes there are well aware of the fact that they need to uphold the proud past while continuing to pursue success in the present and future.
The school serves students in grades 9 through 12 from Collingswood as well as nearby Woodlynne and Oaklyn (grades 10-12).
The Panthers athletic program is classified by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association in Group 2. Collingswood competes in the Colonial Conference and has strong rivalries with nearby Haddon Township, Haddonfield, Haddon Heights and Audubon.
According to the school's website, Collingswood fields 20 athletic teams at the varsity level and has been extremely competitive in several sports on an annual basis.
The Collingswood Panther Marching Band has been an award-winning program over the last dozen years.
Among the many famous alumni to come out of Collingswood High School include:
For more about Collingswood High School, check out the Virtua School of the Week video below.