It’s a game that the football communities on Long Island and New York City have circled on their calendars for months. For many kids, it’s a final high school showcase before going on to playing in college. For those players who are still hopeful of a chance to play in college, it’s one final chance to impress coaches that may be in attendance. And for some kids, it will be the final football game that they will every play in.
The 24th annual UnitedHealthcare Empire Challenge takes place this Friday June 14th at Hofstra University and features the best high school seniors from Long Island and New York City. Proceeds from the game go to the Boomer Esiason Foundation to raise money and awareness for the fight against Cystic Fibrosis as well as to support local youth football.
The Empire Challenge was created by former NFL quarterback and Long Island native Boomer Esiason. The game started in 1996 with a Long Island only Nassau versus Suffolk format and then was expanded to Long Island against New York City in 1998. Long Island leads the all-time series 13-8.
In the 24 year history of the game, there have been 3460 players, coaches, administrators, referees, and trainers that have participated in the event. A total of 45 players that participated in this game went on to play in the NFL including Willie Colon, Stephen Bowen, Devale Ellis, Rich Ohrnberger, Stephon Green, David Legree, Jay Bromley, and Miguel Maysonet.
For Long Island, St. Anthony’s Rich Reichert will be the head coach and his roster includes the likes of Mepham tackle John Aliberti, St. Anthony’s quarterback Greg Campisi, Freeport cornerback Jordan Jackson, Garden City wide receiver Justin Coppola, Wantagh linebacker Will DiMatteo, and Lawrence defensive tackle Jeavon Johnson.
Giants rookies Jake Carlock (Babylon) and James O’Hagen (Seaford) will be honorary captains for Long Island.
The New York City team will be coached by Danny Landberg of Erasmus High School. The talented roster includes players like Midwood running back Tyler Bartholomew, Bayside quarterback Douglas Flug, Canarsie linebacker Jaden Farrow, Poly Prep wide receiver Bobby Coll III and Lehman High School strong safety Marc Duplessy.
General admission tickets to the game include the Johnsonville Big Taste Grill tailgate featuring the fanfest and Generation Jets Fest. A VIP ticket gains entry to the Hurricane Grill & Wing tailgate and game entry.
The tailgate party in the parking lot next to Shuart Stadium runs from 4pm to 630pm There is a fan fest that includes Generation Jets Fest, the New York Jets’ interactive theme park. Also, Johnsonville will have a pre-game party with food and music. Admission to the game is included with a pre-gam party ticket purchase.