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Ken Trimmer, Caldwell's long time head coach and game director for the Phil Simms New Jersey North-South Al-Star Classic, will be one of the honorees at the 50th annual Essex County Scholar-Athlete Dinner, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 11th, at the Mayfair Farms. (Photo by Bill Allen- NJSportAction.NET)

Al Tarik White, who was all revved up while directing Weequahic to the 2006 Central Jersey, Group 2 playoff title, will be another of the honorees during Essex Scholar-Athlete Dinner at Mayfair Farms. (Sideline Chatter file photo)

Essex Scholar-Athlete Dinner
On March 11 at Mayfair Farms
By Steve Tober

WEST ORANGE- In this day and age of change, including almost monthly technology upgrades, endless distractions and the general rush from one place to another, there is a certain stability when it comes to New Jersey high school football in regards to the Scholar-Athlete Awards Dinner sponsored by the Essex County Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.

It’s just one evening in the course of a 365-day calendar, but having attended and also been one of the honorees at the 49 th annual edition - while again being impressed by both the senior athletes themselves and the coaches of past and present who make the event an annual special event - it was indeed reassuring.

This year’s banquet, set for 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 11, at its usual first-rate venue, Mayfair Farms in West Orange, will have an even extra special ring to it in that the 2015 dinner and awards event will celebrate the 50 th Anniversary of the time-honored practice of honoring the football Scholar-Athletes who will represent every Essex County high school that has the gridiron sport.

Among the coaches and administrators receiving special honors along with the players at this year’s Scholar-Athlete Dinner will be Ken Trimmer, the longtime Caldwell coach, who will receive ‘The Contribution to Amateur Football Award;’ Al Tarik White, the former Weequahic coach, who will receive the ‘Distinguished Coach Award,’ and Ron San Fillipo, the retired Caldwell athletic director who today in his administrative role with the Super Essex Conference, helps make the SEC run smoothly, will be honored with the ‘Distinguished American Award.’

Tickets are $50 and those interested in attending can email Peter Horn of Mayfair Farms at or Ron Anello at

One of the great aspects of the Essex Scholar-Athlete Dinner is listening to the wisdom of top students of school and football such as Caldwell’s graduated quarterback Joe Salter, who is now at Princeton. During last year’s Scholar-Athlete response, he provided an invigorating talk on what it’s like to be a leader on the high school football field. Then, there were others such as Montclair High’s placekicker Will Kline, who is now a freshman at Duke, who was another young man in the room who provided a definite inspiration.

The dedication of the coaches who keep the dinner going strong from year to year include seven individuals with strong Montclair connections, headed by Anello, the Essex County Chapter president. The former Montclair Mountie player and assistant coach, and ex-head coach at both West Essex and Clifton is now the athletic director at Ramapo High School.

“The Scholar-Athlete Award for academic achievement, football ability and school leadership remains a tremendous accomplishment for our Essex County football players and I am very pleased to be able to continue being an officer with the Essex Chapter,” said Anello, who played under Butch Fortunato at Montclair. “These young men set a great example for those who will follow them, and that’s so important.”

John Petronaci, another former Mountie football standout and one-time Montclair assistant football coach and head baseball mentor, has also remained part of the Essex County Chapter Board of Directors despite the fact the last two decades of his professional life have been spent as a school administrator and coach at Wallkill Valley in Sussex County.

“The Essex Scholar-Athlete Dinner is something I look forward to being a part of every year,” said Petronaci. “There is no way I would miss being here for this special event and honor the latest seniors receiving such a great award.”

Ex-Mountie standout athlete and area sports supporter Andrew Evangelista, Montclair State University head coach Rick Giancola, MKA assistant football coach Ed Manigan, MSU assistant and former Immaculate Conception coach Richie O’Connor, and longtime MHS fan Fred Palma, Jr., are also on the Essex Chapter’s Board of Directors.

“It’s just a great group of people who are involved with the Essex Scholar-Athlete Dinner,” continued Anello. “And, the fact that this year is the 50 th anniversary is something we really want to take pride in while making sure everyone enjoys a first-class evening while honoring the young men representing their high school this year.”

Follow Steve Tober on Twitter @Chattermeister

Ken Trimmer will receive 'Contribution To Amateur Football Award' during 2015 Essex Scholar-Athlete Dinner. (Photo by Bill Allen-NJSportAction.NET)

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