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Morris Knolls' Blum Leads West in Robeson All-Star Classic

By Joe Hofmann, 06/13/22, 2:45PM EDT


Is Patrick Blum ready for college football?

The Morris Knolls senior safety answered that question at the Robeson Football Classic Thursday night.  Y-E-S!

The senior safety intercepted two passes -- both in key situations -- to lift the West squad to a 19-0 victory over the East.

Blum, who is headed to The College of New Jersey to play safety, was named the West's defensive player of the game.

He didn't receive many accolades during his senior season at Knolls, but he always believed in his heart that he was worthy.

Thursday night, he proved it.

"I didn't get a lot of honors during the season, but I wanted to show that I could play," Blum said. "I wouldn't have dreamed I could have done this, though."

Blum's second INT was big because it seemed to cut the heart out of whatever chance the East had of coming back. 

The West led late in the third quarter, 12-0, but the East had driven deep inside West territory behind the running of Dickinson's Kayee Williams, whose 43-yard run put the ball at the West 19.

The East, which had difficulty getting in sync all game long, was knocking on the door and ready to make a game of it.

But Blum ruined their plans.

Two plays after Williams' run, Blum stepped in front of a pass thrown by Cedar Grove's Alfonso Lombardi at the 1-yard line and the East's bid to cut the West lead in half was thwarted.

"Of the two interceptions, that is the one I more proud of," Blum said. "I made the right read. I saw the receiver make a jab step and I jumped the route. I saw (the receiver) come back and I got the ball."

From that point on, the West -- aided by a fumbled punt return by the East -- went 99 yards and scored when Wayne Hills quarterback Joe Rina connected with East Side receiver Ashin Jacobs for a 3-yard touchdown and a 19-0 lead after Randolph's Carson Hecht booted the extra point.

"Blum is a great athlete," said Randolph coach Will Nahan, who coached the West. "He came in Day One to practice and showed what he can do."

Blum showed that earlier in the game as well, when he intercepted a pass near midfield with seven seconds left in the first half to help protect a 12-0 West lead.

When the West began practicing for the game last week, Blum was amazed at the scintillating talent level of his offensive teammates, including East Side's jet-quick Jair Stewart. Blum noted that he lost some battles to Stewart during practice but won some as well.

But throughout the week, Blum showed his West teammates that he was up to college ball during the workouts.

Thursday night, he showed himself to be ready to the East squad and the rest of the 1,000 or so fans on hand at Robeson Stadium.

"He had such a great game," said Morris Knolls linebacker Joey Dellemonache, who forced a fumble and was one of the West defensive standouts during the game. "His two interceptions were big. We needed those."

The West needed Dellemonache's forced fumble as well. It came early in the fourth quarter after a West punt and the West ahead, 12-0. The East punt returner made an ill-advised attempt to scoop up a punt that had already bounced. Once the ballcarrier picked it up, Dellemonache tracked him down and knocked the ball free. 

Newton standout Darrell Mims (one INT), who was all over the field all night, recovered the ball. Granted new life, the West drove downfield and scored its final touchdown.

"The lane (to the ball carrier) was open and I sprinted to him, same as I always do," Dellemonache said. "I got to him and knocked the ball free."

The Robeson game is probably the final football game of Dellemonache's life. He will attend Penn State in the fall and hung up his shoulder pads for the final time Thursday night ... probably. He left the door open to coming back to football ... maybe. The standout wrestler will wrestle on the club level at Penn State. 

Football is over -- although Dellemonache is leaving the door open a crack.

"It'll definitely gonna be weird not having a season to prepare for (this summer)," said Dellemonache, who has been playing football since flag for the Denville Blue Angels in second grade. "It'll be a hard adjustment. I had a great time playing and this was a great way to finish things off. I don't know ... maybe I could come back at some point if things don't work out (at Penn State)."

Blum and Dellemonache were two of the West's defensive stars, and so were Newton's Mims and defensive lineman Melkart Abou-Jaoude. 

Abou-Jaoude dominated workouts last week and much of the game last night. He was almost chosen the West's defensive player of the game.

But Blum ruined things with his second pick. 

So the Morris Knolls kid not only wreaked havoc on the East, but the plans of those who select the post-game awards as well.

Not a bad way to transition from a high school football player to a college one.

Pat Blum is ready for college football, indeed.