HNT football player of the week: Moroney's two-way performance lifts South Plainfield

HNT football player of the week: Moroney's two-way performance lifts South Plainfield

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HNT football player of the week: Moroney's two-way performance lifts South Plainfield

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The passing numbers Kyle Moroney posted in the South Plainfield High School football team’s 33-14 victory over defending sectional champion Carteret on Friday night were more than enough to earn him Home News Tribune Player of the Week honors.

But what makes Moronoey’s accomplishments even more impressive is the fact that he also plays defensive end – that’s right, a quarterback who plays defensive end – a position from which he recorded nine tackles (three for a loss), two pass deflections and a sack against the Ramblers.

“We were shocked to say the least,” Carteret coach Matt Yascko said of looking across the field to see Moroney line up at defensive end. “We did try to run at him, to not only make him work but (wear him down) a little bit. I was impressed by the kid. The whole (South Plainfield) team just played phenomenal.”

Moroney, a durable and strong-armed signal caller, completed 14 of 20 passes for 250 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 37 yards and a score.

“He might be the best pure passer in the county,” South Plainfield coach Gary Cassio said of Moroney, whose favorite target is 6-foot-1 wideout Johnny Chillemi. “Johnny is a great all-around player, too. He’s got great hands, good speed and runs great routes.”

With Carteret leading 14-7, South Plainfield scored three times over the final four minutes of the first half.

After Moroney connected with Chillemi on a 45-yard scoring strike, the Tigers recovered an onsides kick, setting up a 32-yard touchdown pass from the same combination.

L.J. Scarpito intercepted a pass on the ensuing series and returned the pick deep inside Carteret territory, setting up Moroney’s 1-yard scoring plunge for a 26-14 halftime lead.

Moroney’s services on both sides of the ball were not required in a season-opening rout of New Brunswick, which yielded 198 rushing yards to bruising running back Roemello Monroe.

Monroe was less successful (73 yards) against Carteret, which loaded the box and in turn created some opportunities for Moroney.

“For the most part we shut the Monroe kid down,” Yascko said, adding that Moroney “had four big passes in the game – three perfect long touchdown passes and one that got them down to the (Carteret) 5 (late in the first half) that beat us. It was a pretty darn good performance. “

Cassio, who used Moroney in the secondary last season, would like to avoid playing his quarterback at defensive end.

“He’s a big physical kid,” Cassio said. “I’ve got to yell at him sometimes to tone it down because he likes to mix it up. He’s one of our best defensive players.”

Moroney and Malik Cisson, South Plainfield’s other defensive end, helped take away the edge and forced Carteret tailback Terell Merricks to run between the tackles.

With a young offensive line providing excellent pass protection, Moroney remained upright on offense and was able to avoid getting sacked by Carteret’s blitzing linebackers and safeties. Moroney’s ability to read defenses didn’t hurt, either.

“Kyle didn’t get touched,” Cassio said. “Give the line credit. The line did fantastic.”

The victory over perennial power Carteret, which improved South Plainfield to 2-0, was only the Tigers’ third against the Ramblers in the past 20 years.

“It’s not a two-game season,” Cassio said. “We’re not happy with two wins.”

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