BRIDGEWATER, N.J.— --
The 2nd Annual Basilone Bowl took place June 26, at Bridgewater- Raritan High School bringing together the community, poolees and local Marines. The Basilone Bowl is a football game held to honor one of the Marine Corps greatest heroes, Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone, a recipient of the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross.
“This game is really awesome; it’s a lot of fun its really nice to see kids playing together that are usually opponents on the field, Said Jo-Ann Liptak, mayor of Raritan, N.J. “The camaraderie is terrific. This game is also great for the community. You have so many people in the stands, moms and dads grandmothers and grandfathers, brothers and sisters; it really brings the community together.”
Present at the game also was John Basilone’ s niece, Diane Hawkins.
“The Basilone Bowl is very exiting it makes me very happy and proud that my uncle John Basilone’ s legacy still lives and I’m very happy to be here,” said Hawkins. “I’ve been around Marines my whole life and every time I mention his name they all know who my uncle is.”
The two teams, the Devil Dogs and the Leathernecks, consisting of high school seniors from across Somerset County and Hunterdon County took the field after a week of practices and leadership seminars hosted by the Marine Corps. For many of the students this would be the last game of their career.
“Playing in the game today is absolutely humbling. It’s a total honor to be here and it’s such a great cause, remembering this Marine,” said Michael Silbert, a senior from Pingry School and a player on the Leatherneck team. “It’s a great opportunity to play with my team one last time and to play with people I’ve never played with before.”
In the first quarter the Devil Dogs took the lead with a score of 13 to 0; Putting pressure on the Leatherneck team to put points on the board but after the end of the second quarter the score remained the same.
During the halftime period poolees from across New Jersey marched onto the field to recite the oath of enlistment delivered by Marine Corps Recruiting Command’s Commanding General Maj. Gen. Mark Brilakis and Charmie Mehta, a native of Bridgewater, N.J., sang the National Anthem.
The game heated up in the third quarter with the Leatherneck team scoring consecutive goals and completing two field goals bringing the score total to 13 to 14 with the Leathernecks in the lead. The third quarter ended with the Devil Dogs scoring and completing a field goal bringing the score to 21 to 14. In the fourth quarter the Leathernecks failed to even it up leaving the Devil Dogs as the 2nd Inaugural Basilone Bowl Champions with a final score of 21 to 14.
“I think it is great that we took a Marine Corps legend such as “Manila” John Basilone, a winner of the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross in his service and honored him in this way, said Maj. Gen. Mark A. Brilakis.“ It’s just phenomenal to come to the stadium named after John Basilone in the town that admires and respects him. This is a community that recognizes the Corps contribution. It’s a very patriotic community. The Marines here did a wonderful job putting this together and I’m looking forward to seeing a little football in New Jersey, the state where I grew up.”