2005-07-08 / Sports

Romain Named Empire Game MVP

By Elio Velez


Boomer Esiason, (right) hands James Romain (left) the Outback MVP as Madison Square Garden Network reporter Carl Reuter (middle) gets ready to interview him for the broadcast of the game on July 13 on MSG. Photos By Pete Borriello.
Boomer Esiason, (right) hands James Romain (left) the Outback MVP as Madison Square Garden Network reporter Carl Reuter (middle) gets ready to interview him for the broadcast of the game on July 13 on MSG. Photos By Pete Borriello. In a 44-7 blowout win by Long Island in the tenth annual Outback Steakhouse Empire State All Star Football Game last Thursday night, it was hard to find a bright spot for the New York All Stars team. The city fumbled and stumbled their way to a brutal loss but one player did rise above the malaise to shine for New York.

In the bright lights of Hofstra’s James Shuart Stadium, Far Rockaway High School’s James Romain electrified the crowd with his speed and athleticism to gain the most valuable player award. Starting at wide receiver, the senior caught five passes for 132 yards. In his only punt return in the third quarter, Romain ran for 40 yards and juked numerous Long Island players out of their shoes as the crowd got onto their feet and showed their appreciation for the play.

James Romain evades Long Island’s Alton Lucas in a punt return in the third quarter. James Romain evades Long Island’s Alton Lucas in a punt return in the third quarter. “I call it the Romain special. I did it at Far Rock, I did it here and Im going to take it to college,” Romain said with a smile after the game.

“I felt great. I knew I was going to have a good game because they didn’t pick me at first,” Romain said. “They doubted me because I was at Far Rock and I proved the critics wrong that Far Rock doesn’t have talent.”

Romain was initially snubbed and not selected to the all-star roster. Nyan Boateng, the University of Florida bound wide receiver was nominated to the game even though he missed the entire 2004 season at Lincoln High School. When Boateng left to attend summer classes at Florida, Romain became a late roster addition. He wanted to prove that selection not only was warranted but was long overdue.

“It’s a big motivation because I like when people put the pressure on my back and force because I’ll have an explosive game,” Romain said. “I got overlooked by the rest of those guys like Nyan Boateng who didn’t even play a down this year and that’s a shame.”

Romain starred for Far Rockaway the last three seasons at numerous positions on offense, defense and special teams. In addition to being a wide receiver, he gained 763 yards as a runningback in 2004 and was lauded by opposing head coaches for his versatility and game breaking ability. That gained him a spot in the PSAL Fugazzi All Star Bowl Game last December, where he captured the MVP with a dazzling 90-yard punt return before breaking his left ankle in the second half.

His numbers and Fugazzi honors, however, still didn’t give Romain a berth on the Empire team when it was announced in May. Far Rockaway head coach Anthony Miele knew it was a big slight and it was time for him to get to work.

For more than a month, Miele showed videotapes, made phone calls and talked to members of the selection committee in person so they could appoint Romain to the game. The tactic worked and Miele sat along proudly with members of his coaching staff in the stands at Hofstra watching Romain evade defenders en route to a big game.

“I’m very happy to see a kid from Far Rockaway who can do kickoffs, punt and catch balls. Romain did what he had to do. He proved that deserved to be in that game. He worked hard, he was professional and I expect that in the years to come,” Miele says.

Romain’s Far Rockaway teammates, Chris Howard and Jeremy Pruitt ,were a few players present at Hofstra. Howard, a quarterback who will attend Livingstone College in North Carolina, has grown up with Romain for years and believes that his future will be as bright as his MVP performance.

“James has the best overall raw talent to play Division I with all these guys. It’s only going to get better for him,” Howard said.

In September, Romain will take his talents to Hudson Valley Community College, a competitive NCAA JUCO school in Troy, New York. It’s the first stop but definitely not the last destination in his college football career.

as going to CW Post but I shouldn’t shoot myself short of going to division II. I wanted to go to junior college so I can get the chance to play Division I. I want to play somewhere on the east coast but my dream is to play for Virginia Tech,” he said.

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