Donny Stires is one of several talented lacrosse players who will swap lacrosse stick for football pads one last time on Friday night.
Stires, of Bridgewater-Raritan High School, joins Immaculata’s Sean Palen and Montgomery’s Josh Reinson as a trio of the area’s lacrosse talent who will take part in Basilone Bowl I.
Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. Friday at Bridgewater-Raritan High School’s Basilone Field.
Stires, who was the man in goal for the Panthers’ lacrosse team this past spring, is headed to Lehigh to continue his lacrosse career as a collegian. But he quarterbacked the Panthers football team to the NJSIAA playoffs last fall and will be under center for the Devil Dogs when they match up against the Leathernecks in Somerset County’s first all-star football game.
Stires reflected on the recent days, when he saw his high school lacrosse career come to and end and he was graduated from high school.
“I’m trying just to live my life right now, and trying not look too far ahead to next year,” said Stires. “I’m trying to see all my friends and to prepare for this significant game. I’m looking forward to playing Friday night, but at the same time I’m balancing things out and getting ready for next year.”
Stires said he needed some tuning up before the big game.
“It’s something I had to get used to,” Stires said. “I haven’t played football in a relatively long time so I came out here and threw a few times in prepartation. It’s definitely a different transition wearing the (football) pads and being a (lacrosse)goalie. I’m not used to running as much.”
For Palen, who will play lacrosse at DeSales, the Basilone Bowl will be a chance for him to show off an accurate right arm. He was the backup quarterback for the Spartans last fall, but will start at the position for the Leathernecks.
“It’s definitely a different experience, but it’s something I’m looking forward to and something I’m excited about,” Palen said.
“It’s pretty cool playing with the guys you played against for four years and meeting them,” added Palen, “instead of being on the other side.”
Reinson, who committed to the University of Maryland after his sophomore year, has experience at multiple positions in the offensive backfield, including at quarterback. He’ll line up primarily at running back and safety though, for the Leathernecks.
“It’s definitely a different change because I’m usually playing lacrosse in the summer,” Reinson said, “and playing football coming off lacrosse season is a change of pace for me.”