As founder and director of the MyCentralJersey.com Snapple Bowl, Marcus Borden relies on passionate volunteers to make his charity all-star football game the state’s most successful.
Marissa Greenstein Plancher, a longtime assistant who serves as administrative assistant and media relations director for the game, embodies the qualities Borden seeks.
“There are certain people that you come across in your lifetime that are willing to go the extra mile,” Borden said, “and Marissa is one of those people She’s a very hard-working and conscientious young lady who is driven to help others.”
Greenstein Plancher’s involvement in the game began 13 years ago as a high school student when she served as the football team manager at East Brunswick, where Borden has been the head coach for the past three decades.
“I could have stopped when I got out of high school,” Greenstein Plancher said, “but I’ve been around children with disabilities my entire life, and it’s such an honor to be able to do something for them.”
Greenstein Plancher was referring to her involvement with students from the Lakeview School, which joins Children’s Specialized Hospital as the game’s official charities.
Through the dedication of volunteers such as Greenstein Plancher, who works as an instructional aide in the South Plainfield school district, the Snapple Bowl has raised more than $370,000 since its inception.
“When Marissa graduated from high school she was not going to give up her involvement because she loved the game so much and what it stood for,” Borden said. “She’s always had no problem stepping up to the plate and doing things that need to be done.”
Greenstein Plancher’s responsibilities include — but are not limited to — taking photos, shooting video, posting pictures and information on Facebook and Twitter, making sure players are hydrated, running errands, checking in game participants at banquets, press conferences and pep rallies.
“It’s a great two weeks of summer,” Greenstein Plancher said of the preparation leading up to the game, which was played at her alma mater Thursday night.
“I get so sad when it ends.”
Each of Middlesex County’s offensive players wore a specially designed wristband, each containing plays that offensive coordinator Marcus Borden shouted from the sideline as a way of expediting a no-huddle offense.
“It was all done with numbers and signals,” explained Middlesex County running backs coach Rick Mantz, “so as we implemented the offense initially, the kids understood the value of us being able to yell things from the sidelines, and (for them) to be able to read off the wristbands.”
Mantz said the ultimate goal was to allow Middlesex County to run its offense at various tempos, including no-huddle, throughout the game.
Borden had more than 70 plays in Middlesex County’s arsenal.
A somber cheer
Laine Harris, a recently graduated cheerleader from South Plainfield High School, sang the National Anthem before the opening kickoff.
A moment of silence for slain Linden High School cheerleading captain Amber Duncan-Wilson preceded Harris’ rendition.
Cheerleaders from Middlesex and Union counties wore orange and gold ribbons — reflecting Linden’s school colors — in honor of Duncan-Wilson, who was shot and killed during a July 9 robbery in her hometown.
Squads from both sides dedicated their halftime performances to her memory.
The officiating crew donated its time and services to work Thursday night’s game.
The crew featured Mark Davison (referee), Dennis Powers (umpire), Carl Graham (linesman), Dan Teel (line judge), Sean Perry (back judge), Ron Bove (side judge) and Brian Buchalski (field judge).
Snapple Bowl XIX was played in four 15-more quarters, making the contest 12 minutes or an entire quarter longer than a regulation scholastic game.
Players in the game sported brand new Nike Combat Speed jerseys and pants. The uniform is identical to the style NFL players will wear this upcoming season.
The Snapple Bowl is the only high school all-star game in the country whose players wear the Nike Combat Speed uniform.
Snapple Bowl XIX will be rebroadcast on EBTV at a future date.
WCTC sportscaster Mike Pavlichko handled play-by-play for the broadcast, while Sayreville coach George Najjar provided color commentary.