In the News

NYC ends Empire Challenge slide against L.I.

By: Tony Bellissimo

It took a record-setting performance from quarterback Sharif Harris-Legree for New York City to snap a five-game losing streak against Long Island in the 21st annual UnitedHealthcare Empire Challenge all-star football game on Tuesday night.

One snap away from defeat, Harris-Legree, of Grand Street Campus, connected with Jordan Hannah (Lincoln) in the corner of the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown on fourth-and-9 with 22 seconds remaining to lift New York City to a thrilling 39-34 victory before a crowd of 7,145 at Hofstra. It was the third passing score for Harris-Legree, who completed 24 of 33 passes for an Empire Challenge record 371 yards and added a rushing touchdown on the way to MVP honors.

“The coaches believed in me and put the ball in my hands to do damage, and we got the win,” Harris-Legree said. “The winning play was just a wonderful catch.”

One of Harris-Legree’s counterparts, Carey’s Mike Catanese, also stood out and had Long Island in position to continue its recent dominance after hooking up with Infinite Tucker (Huntington) for a 12-yard touchdown with 1:46 to go. Plainedge’s Dylan Burns booted the extra point for a 34-33 lead, but plenty of time remained for Harris-Legree’s finishing touch.

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Schwartz: Once Again, ‘Boomer Bowl’ Leads Fight Against Cystic Fibrosis

By: Peter Schwartz [SOURCE]

WFAN Host’s Foundation Benefits From Thrilling United Healthcare Empire Challenge Football Game At Hofstra

The celebration was on in the west stands of Shuart Stadium.

That’s where the New York City fans were sitting … check that … standing after a long Hail Mary pass by Long Island quarterback Mike Catanese fell incomplete on the final play of the game.

After five straight losses, New York City stopped the bleeding with a dramatic 39-34 win over Long Island in the 21st annual United Healthcare Empire Challenge, an all-star game of high school seniors to benefit the Boomer Esiason Foundation and the fight against cystic fibrosis.

For the record, the winning score was a 19-yard touchdown pass from Sharif Harris-Legree to Jordan Hannah on 4th and 9 with 22 seconds left. Harris-Legree, from Grand Street Campus, was the game’s MVP throwing for an Empire Challenge-record 371 yards and three touchdowns in front of a crowd of 7,145 at Hofstra University.


Video compilations by, 25ive Sports, Pre-Postgame and Resolution Sports



Schwartz: Football For A Good Cause At 20th Annual Empire Challenge via CBS New York


Written by: Peter Schwartz

Despite Mother Nature’s efforts, it was a beautiful evening at Hofstra University on Tuesday night. Sure, there was plenty of rain and two lightning delays, but it didn’t matter. Despite stormy conditions at Shuart Stadium, the end result was all that counted.

In fact, there was really nothing that could take away from the real meaning of the 20th annual UnitedHealthcare Empire Challenge, an All-Star high school football game presented by the Boomer Esiason Foundation, pitting Long Island against New York City. For the record, Long Island won for the fifth straight year, beating New York City 34-27.

But the final score was irrelevant.

Proceeds from the event support area youth football and the fight against cystic fibrosis. The money raised is distributed between the Gunnar H. Esiason Endowed Scholarship at Hofstra University, high school athletic programs, tickets provided to local youth groups and the cystic fibrosis community.

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Football: SWR’s Squires catches TD pass in Long Island win via Riverhead News-Review


Written by: Bob Liepa


Because of the weather, the postgame fireworks show was cancelled. That was O.K., though, because the fans had already seen a different sort of fireworks, before and during the 20th annual Empire Challenge football game.

At first, there was nature’s brand of fireworks that caused two lightning delays at Hofstra University’s James M. Shuart Stadium. And then there were the fireworks created by the Long Island offense.

Long Island’s offense provided some bolts of energy itself, beating New York City, 34-27, on Tuesday night in the annual meeting of the top senior high school players in the area.

It was the fifth straight win by Long Island, which has a 12-6 record in the history of the game. (The first two contests were between Nassau and Suffolk counties.)

Shoreham-Wading River wide receiver Isreal Squires caught a fourth-quarter touchdown pass from John Daniggelis to help the Long Islanders out to a 34-14 lead with 5 minutes 45 seconds left. Squires, who will play football for St. Lawrence University (N.Y.), made two catches for 32 yards.

Continue reading the full article here.

Pete Blieberg: Empire Challenge’s unsung hero Updated June 23, 2015 11:33 PM via Newsday

Written by: Greg Sarra

Pete Blieberg didn’t sleep Monday night. He hasn’t slept the night before the Empire Challenge for 20 years, which is understandable.

Blieberg is the senior game coordinator for the matchup of Long Island’s senior football all-stars against their counterparts from New York City. It’s a full-time job, and he loves it.

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Jasawn Thompson’s position switch a good end to his high school career via Newsday

Written by: BOB HERZOG

Jasawn Thompson of Deer Park loves to roam. That’s why his style of defense is so well-suited to being a sideline-to-sideline linebacker.

And that’s why the Delaware-bound Thompson did a double-take last week when he was told where he will be playing on the Long Island defensive unit in tonight’s 20th Empire Challenge against New York City at 7 p.m. at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.

Continue reading here.

Empire Challenge a last hurrah for two LI quarterbacks via Newsday


Written by: BOB HERZOG

For one Long Island quarterback, the Empire Challenge provides the opportunity to push the restart button on his football career. For another, it’s a forlorn farewell before hitting the eject button.

“It’s definitely an honor to be here,” said Steve Genova of St. Anthony’s, flashing a wide smile and pointing to the array of players around him as he added, “We had weapons at St. Anthony’s,…

Continue reading here.

Strong Staten Island group selected for Empire Challenge all-star game


The Empire Challenge – also known as the “Boomer Game” for its support of the Boomer Esiason Foundation and its battle against cystic fibrosis – will celebrate its 20thanniversary this summer with a strong contingent of Staten Island players playing for the New York City squad.

The game is scheduled for June 23 at Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium with NYC taking on a team of Long Island players.

The roster of Staten Island players invited to compete is as follows:

St. Peter’s

Willie Dale

Sean Kennedy

Joe Czelusniak

Jeff Karteron

Will Myhre

Sean Wade


Kahleel Doumbia

Andre Ridley

Willy Johnson

Monsignor Farrell

Pat Kelly

Christian Sheridan

Joe Irlinger


Nicco Ruggiero

Christian Sullivan

Luis Perea

Susan Wagner

Dan Romolo

New Dorp

Dawa Winn


2007 Empire Challenge Alum – Jaiquawn Jarrett

Via Metro

Jaiquawn Jarrett couldn’t remember after Sunday’s 20-13 win the exact number of starts he’s had with New York — even if he can count them on one hand.

But it was the unheralded Jarrett, a former second-round pick of the Eagles in 2011, who keyed a feisty Jets defense to the win.

He had seven tackles, one sack, a fumble recovery and interceptions in the first and third quarter after finding out Friday he would be making the start for rookie first-round pick Calvin Pryor.

“When the tables are rolling for you, you just got to continue to capitalize,” Jarrett said. “The ball fell in our favor and we were able to get the offense the ball and they were able to go down there and get some points for us.”

Pryor is still far more comfortable playing the run. In a game against a quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger, the Jets feared Pryor could get burned.

And so Jarrett got his first start of the season against a quarterback who had an NFL-record 12 touchdowns the last two weeks. The Jets defense as a whole responded with four quarterback sacks and numerous hurries of Roethlisberger in the pocket.

“I think as a unit, as a team, we came together. We dialed in, we stayed focused on doing just our job,” Jarrett said. “We were able to go out there and execute and get the job done.”

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.