Rahway coach Gary Mobley talked about replacing a program pilliar like Hakeem Kornegay, what other impact players are returning this season and more.
Q. How do you go about replacing a program pillar like Hakeem Kornegay, who is now playing at Wesley?
A. It’s going to be a difficult proposition when you’re taking away a kid who was a dynamic playmaker and a true leader and commanded respect on and off the field. Just his presence alone was a comfort to a lot of the guys. Most of our skill guys graduated. We were run-heavy last year — everything ran through Hakeem and (graduated tailback) Nafee Ariss. But we have guys who helped us offensively. Justin Becker as a starting fullback ran tough in between the tackles. Colin Quinn came on late in the year as a tight end with great blocking ability and nice, soft hands.
Q. What other impact players return?
A. Ruben Pierre on the offensive line. Defensively we’re returning three starters on the line, three linebackers and two experienced corners. We’re more experienced on the defensive side. Offensively the weapons we have are different this year. We’ll be a little bit more 50-50 than 80-20 as far as run-pass percentage.
Q. How surprising is it that Rahway jumped from Group II last year to Group IV this year? That kind of leap is unheard of. Not to mention that you only have one Group IV team on your schedule (Scotch Plains-Fanwood).
A. We don’t understand how we can go from being Central II last year to North 2 Group IV now. It’s crazy. We never know what section we’re going to be in, but this is ridiculous. You wish somehow you could get a semblance of normalcy.
Q. It seems like one way or another, Rahway always finds a way to post a winning season and get into the playoffs. Does the tradition of success fuel your players or is it hard for that kind of thing to carry over from year to year?
A. Rahway is a sports town that’s always been rich in tradition. We’ve always been a tough out, a tough game, and we harp on that. The kids know it. But we’re still hungry. We’ve had a lot of success through the regular season, but the fact to the matter remains the same — we still have not won a ring yet. There’s only one team that’s happy at the end of the year and we’re looking to be that team. We’re still propelled by (the success), and the new guys want to keep the tradition going and not drop the ball.