Tyler Gallagher has Friday, June 30 circled on his calendar.
It’s when the Monmouth Regional High School senior will play in the final high school game of his career–the 39th annual U.S. Army All-Shore Gridiron Classic at Central Regional at 7 p.m.
Gallagher figures to be in the lineup at offensive tackle for the Monmouth County All-Stars, who will oppose the Ocean County All-Stars.
“It feels great to be selected,” the 6-foot-3, 265-pounder said. “It feels really good knowing people are proud of how I played. It’s special to represent my school. It shows our school is turning around and becoming the Monmouth Regional it used to be. Making this game was a goal from my freshman year, but I was focused more on having our team succeed. It feels really good to be here. The coaches at Monmouth are really proud of me and it’s a really good feeling.
“This is my final high school game and it’s kind of surreal. My career does not feel like it is over yet. It’s almost bitter sweet. I have made it to the next level and will keep on getting better.”
Gallagher, who was too heavy to play youth football, won three varsity letters for the Falcons as he also played offensive guard, center and defensive tackle.
“My favorite position is probably offensive tackle,” he said. “I just like the feeling I get from knowing I did not let the defender get past me. I kept our quarterback safe. To accomplish that, I used more of a technical mindset and tried to go against the moves the defenders tried to make on me to get past me.”
Gallagher, who wrestled at heavyweight for the Falcons as a junior and notched a winning record, began his organized football career as a freshman.
“I kept my head in the game,” he said. “Whenever a coach told me to do something, I tried to perfect it. I have a good work ethic when it comes to playing football.”
Not many defenders got past Gallagher last season. The Falcons went 5-5 and Gallagher noticed a stronger work ethic among the Falcons.
“The team was a lot more willing to put in more work–and not only when the coaches were around,” Gallagher said. “Prior to last season, I would come to practice and see two other guys running and working out with no coaches around. From my freshman year through my junior year, I had never seen anything like that at our school.”
One of Monmouth’s victories was over NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II champion Raritan during the regular season.
“We almost made the playoffs,” Gallagher said. “I think we missed them by one power point. When we beat Raritan, it was a huge game that turned heads.”
Gallagher was named a Vince Lombardi Award winner as one of the top offensive linemen in Monmouth County last season. He and others were honored at a dinner at the Sheraton in Eatontown.
“It was another really great feeling to receive that award,” he said. “I worked so hard to be the best player I could be and in other people’s minds I was a outstanding lineman.”
Gallagher will continue his career at Kean University where he was recruited as an offensive tackle. The Cougars compete at the NCAA Division III level. Gallagher, whose brother-in-law, Dave D’Arcy, is a Holmdel patrolman, will major in criminal justice as he is an aspiring Drug Enforcement Agency agent. Gallagher chose the Cougars over Delaware Valley, Misericordia, Rowan, McDaniels, Susquehanna, The College of New Jersey and Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham.
“When I met with Kean’s coaches, I really felt at home,” Gallagher said. “At the other schools, I did not feel like a part of the team right away. The coach, Dan Garrett, wished me Merry Christmas and always had something great to say. I feel I have to keep pushing and pushing no matter what. I will never be personally satisified with myself. There are always improvements that can be made. I have to improve on my conditioning in terms of aerobics and running.”
It remains to be seen how Monmouth will fare against Ocean. Monmouth leads the series 20-17 with one tie. However, Ocean won last year’s game 27-7 a Long Branch. One thing is for certain–Monmouth is unified.
“The coaching staff sent out an e-mail asking all of us to wear white shirts and khaki pants,” Gallagher said. “My coach at Monmouth (Rich Mosca) received it about a week ago and forwarded it to me (Gallagher complied). A lot of the guys wore the outfit. It says we are all coming together as one and that we all have the same goal–to win the game basically.”
Both teams will have one week of practice to prepare for the game. Both coaching staffs expect their players to be in football shape.
“Right now, I am training for college football,” Gallagher said. “I am doing the workouts that coach Garrett gave me. I do a lot on the weights. One or two days per week, I work on conditioning and agility. I am ready to go.”
Gallagher and his teammates had better be in optimum shape as Monmouth will attack Ocean with an up tempo offense.
“We will go with a zone based offense,” Gallagher said. “We will use the no huddle look. We will be running the ball. It’s a quick offense and we will get after it. It will be a high scoring game. No matter what, I feel we will come out on top. Some of the competition in Monmouth County is very good. I know that a lot of our guys look like they are ready to get after it.
“I am excited to get after it and excited to play in my last high school football game.”