For the better of the St. Joseph High School football team, Javon Hicks moved from wide receiver to quarterback in the second week of last season.
The recently graduated senior’s unselfishness was rewarded with a selection to MyCentralJersey.com Snapple Bowl XXII, where Hicks will return to his natural position for the Middlesex County All-Stars at Kean University on July 16.
All proceeds from the event against a team of counterparts from Union County benefit Children’s Specialized Hospital and the Lakeview School, a program of the New Jersey Institute for Disabilities.
The game has raised more than $485,000 since its inception in 1994.
Hicks, who transferred to St. Joseph after spending his sophomore season at Arthur L. Johnson Regional High School in his native Clark, is quite familiar with three former teammates – wideout Mark Barranger and offensive linemen Mike Labianca and Andrew Lameira – who will represent the Crusaders on the Union County squad.
“It suits me better,” Hicks said of playing wideout in the Snapple Bowl. “I think I’m better when I can have the ball in my hands and make big plays in open space. I’ve been working on it over the summer, so transitioning (back to receiver) should be good.”
Hicks impressed on the opening night of Middlesex County’s practice earlier this week and offensive coordinator Joe LaSala is expecting big things from the 6-foot-2, 180-pound receiver.
“He’s long and lean,” LaSala said. “He looks like he could get off the line of scrimmage. He’s got some size. He definitely looks like a playmaker that’s in shape. It’s early on, but we’ll see what he can do, maybe get him the ball in positions he likes. I’m sure he’s going to do well.”
St. Joseph head coach Casey Ransone said, “What I love about the kid most is he’s a team guy. He wanted to do whatever he had to do to help the team win.”
“No one man is bigger than the team. If it calls you to play a different position to help your team win games, you should be willing to do that. This isn’t about me. It’s about us.”
Hicks moved to quarterback after halftime of St. Joseph’s second game of the season against Red Bank Catholic and remained there for the rest of the season.
He ended the 2014 campaign as the Greater Middlesex Conference’s fifth-leading passer, completing 61 of 94 attempts for 1,017 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also rushed 63 times for 564 yards and five scores.
“He embraced the change quickly,” Ransone said. “He’s mentally tough that way. He was able to adapt to the new position. He approached practice every day with the attitude to be the best quarterback he could be.”
Hicks will continue his career at Fairleigh Dickinson University, where he will likely play defensive back, a position at which he starred for St. Joseph during his junior year. For now, Hicks will enjoy returning to wideout.
The unselfish player, however, knows in football it is better to give (unselfishly with a position change) than it is to receive.
What: MyCentralJersey.com Snapple Bowl XXII, New Jersey’s most successful charity all-star football game
Where: Kean University’s Alumni Stadium, Union
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, July 16
Participants: Recently graduated high school senior players and cheerleaders from Middlesex and Union counties.
About the event
Beneficiaries: All proceeds from the game, which has raised more than $485,000 since its inception, benefit Children’s Specialized Hospital and the Lakeview School, a program of the New Jersey Institute for Disabilities.
Practice venues: Colonia High School (Middlesex County All-Stars) and Union High School (Union County All-Stars).
Key dates: Middlesex County All-Stars visit the Lakeview School in Edison and Union County All-Stars visit Children’s Specialized Hospital in Mountainside on July 13; Snapple Bowl banquet at Pines Manor restaurant in Edison July 15.
Tickets: Can be purchased at the gate for $10.
Previewing the game: Leading up to Snapple Bowl XXII, the Home News Tribune, Courier News and MyCentralJersey.com will feature at least one story daily, as well as videos.
Game coverage: Look for a game story, a notebook, a Middlesex County sidebar, a Union County sidebar, an A1 story, a photo gallery and video highlights from Snapple Bowl XXII in the Home News Tribune, Courier News and at MyCentralJersey.com.
Social media: Follow us via Twitter @MyCJ_Sports and @SnappleBowl for updates and to interact with reporters and Snapple Bowl XXII game director Marcus Borden.
MyCentralJersey.com Snapple Bowl XXII official web site: Can be found at https://worknotes.com/NJ/SouthRiver/SnappleBowl/