Watch as the rosters for the 2016 APP All-Star Hockey Classic are unveiled.
Chris Rotolo, Asbury Park Press

HAZLET  Many kids growing up focus on playing only one sport and play it year-round.

The Monmouth County All-Stars, however, have a couple of football players who excel in more than one sport at the high school level.

Howell’s Nic Rossi and Shore Regional’s Erik Graham are All-Star football players who will represent Monmouth County in the 39th annual U.S. Army All-Shore Gridiron Classic on Thursday evening at Central Regional High School, but they also excel at lacrosse.

Rossi, in fact, was a participant in the 12th annual Shore Lacrosse Coaches All-Star Game on June 15 at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School.

“I’d say in lacrosse, there’s a lot more running, so that keeps me in shape all the time. But just the physicality is similar,” Rossi said. “When I play lacrosse, I have more of a defensive mindset, but I’ve always played on both sides of the ball in football. I try to play a tough type of lacrosse, and the toughness and running around are what’s similar.”

Even though the two all-star games are being played close together, Rossi says he does not believe any adjustment period will be necessary going from one sport to the other.

“I’m just going to jump right into (the football game). I’m used to going from one sport to the next from playing a bunch of sports every season,” Rossi said.

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Anthony Petruzzi, Monmouth County All-Stars and sixth year Raritan head coach,  agreed that it’s better to grow up playing multiple sports.

“It’s a proven fact. The numbers don’t lie that guys who play multiple sports earn more athletic scholarships. It’s funny that some of these guys just got finished playing in the lacrosse all-star game, and now they’re coming back and playing a football game,” Petruzzi said. “Some of them played lacrosse for the last time, and now some of them will be playing football for the last time.”

Petruzzi also talked about how the athletic staff at Raritan tries to get as many student-athletes as possible to participate in multiple sports.

“Here at Raritan, we try to get everybody involved in sports. There should be no off-season for these guys, and the off-season shouldn’t be continuous with the same sport. You should play all of them because they all offer such unique experiences that helps you across the board,” Petruzzi said.

Rossi agrees with Petruzzi about student-athletes who play multiple sports not having an off-season.

“There’s really no off-season because as soon as I’m done with one sport, I begin to train for the next one. Sometimes I make sure I work on both sports in the summer and it’s really just training my body in general and then whatever season I’m in – just playing that sport,” Rossi said.

U.S. Army All-Shore Gridiron Classic 

When: Thursday, June 30

Where: Central Regional High School’s Joseph J. Boyd Memorial Field

Time: Kickoff 7 p.m., Gates 5 p.m.

Who: Ocean vs. Monmouth County graduated seniors

History: Monmouth County leads series 20-17-1

Tickets: $10

Broadcast: 1160 AM, 1310 AM and streamed live on shoresportsnetwork.com

Hall of Fame: At halftime, the Shore Football Coaches Foundation Hall of Fame will induct Steve Antonucci, Dick Brinster and Kevin Callahan.

John Sorce: jsorce@gannettnj.com