RED BANK: GROWING TOURNEY RAISES $15K

RED BANK, NJ, rivalry series, touch football, flag footballA Fair Haven ball carrier looks for an opening against Rumson, and cheerleaders go airborne, below. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

RED BANK, NJ, rivalry series, touch football, flag footballA flag-football tournament that grew out of a pickup game in Little Silver marked its 17th anniversary last Friday with gridiron contests for kids, women and men from eight towns.

Along the way, the event, now held in Red Bank, raised $15,000 for Lunch Break, the social services organization based just a block away.

RED BANK, NJ, rivalry series, touch football, flag footballPlayers from Little Silver (in blue) and Middletown vie for a pass during one of the women’s games, and youngsters lend a hand in the officiating effort, below. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

RED BANK, NJ, rivalry series, touch football, flag footballFor the second year, the Rivalry Series was held at Count Basie Fields, drawing some 300 players and hundreds of spectators, said organizer Rick Brandt.

Many of the players and their families volunteered at Lunch Break on the Saturdays before and after Thanksgiving, serving hot meals to those in need while wearing their town jerseys, said Brandt, a member of Lunch Break’s board of trustees.

The participants also rounded up “a truckful” of food and clothing for the organization, he said. The series has raised more than $50,000 for Lunch Break in recent years, said Brandt, a Little Silver resident.

What’s now known as the Rivalry Series began in 2002 as a casual game between high school and college kids from Little Silver and Shrewsbury home for Thanksgiving break. The games were played on White Road in Little Silver, at the home of the Red Bank Catholic practice field, and at stake was the “White Road Cup.”

Two years ago, after joining the Lunch Break board, Brandt moved the event to Count Basie Fields, adding games for children and women. A year ago, he expanded the event to include teams from Fair Haven and Rumson; this year’s daylong tourney added squads from Red Bank, Middletown, Oceanport and Monmouth Beach.

“All of the good that exists in Little Silver, Shrewsbury, Fair Haven, Rumson, Red Bank, Oceanport, Middletown and Monmouth Beach is represented by this annual football tournament,” said Brandt. “It is our hope that through our efforts together, we can tackle hunger in our community.”

The Downtown in Red Bank hosted a series kickoff party, and Val’s Tavern in Rumson hosted all players and their families at an after party, Brandt said.