Will Murray can laugh these days when he talks about crying on the football field.
The senior two-way lineman at Haddonfield had such a passion for the sport that at age 4 he began practicing with a youth football team that his father coached. He was too young to play, and that caused the flood of tears.
"I practiced every day with the team, but at games, I couldn't play and I would cry on the bench," he said. "Now it's kind of funny to think about it."
Murray had to wait until the ripe old age of 5 to play, and he hasn't stopped since. Actually, he thought he was finished, but Murray will have one last time to represent his school, and it will come at the site of his greatest football triumph.
A 6-foot, 225-pound center and defensive tackle, Murray was among the seniors selected to play in the Adam Taliaferro Foundation South Jersey Football Coaches Association All-Star Football Classic. The game will take place June 28 at Rowan University. Proceeds will benefit the Adam Taliaferro Foundation, which was started in 2001 and has raised nearly $1 million to help those throughout the tri-state area who have suffered spinal injuries.
"I am super-excited to suit up and go out there one more time," Murray said.
It will be his final game because Murray won't be playing football in college. He'll attend Alabama and major in exercise science, with a desire to get involved in strength and conditioning.
"The [exercise science] program there is unbelievable, one of the best in the country," he said, and he hopes to get a chance to work with the powerhouse football team.
For now, Murray will savor his final football game, although he will have to go a long way to top his experience the last time he played at Rowan's field.
That would be Haddonfield's wild 21-17 win over West Deptford in the South Jersey Group 2 championship game in December, a game the Bulldogs were trailing, 17-7, late in the third quarter before storming back. The winning touchdown came on a 51-yard Drew Gavranich catch-and-run with 2:36 remaining.
"The momentum was changing nonstop, and it was insane," Murray said.
Murray was one of the leaders of a Haddonfield team that had to play every game on the road while its stadium was being renovated.
"Will was kind of the heartbeat of our team," Haddonfield coach Frank DeLano said. "He is an emotional guy who led by example and did things the right way both on and off the field."
One of the many benefits of the all-star game is that it gives players one last time to represent their school.
"I did think I was done and went out the right way," Murray said. "I won my last football game and it was great, but it really does mean a lot to have one more game."
Forget that this is an all-star game. Murray has only one goal: to win. He will always have great memories of playing at Rowan and feels this is the time to add one more to the list.
"It is definitely cool to go back there and play," he said. "Rowan is a great stadium and hopefully we will have a good crowd and have fun while playing for a great cause."