The numbers are deceiving on Kyle Grant. His frame is modest at 5-foot-7 and 145 pounds, but the senior stands tall as the centerpiece of North Plainfield High School’s football team.
Don’t let his pedestrian rushing totals from last year fool you either. Grant keeps plays alive with his legs, often turning them into long gains in the air, and he’s flat-out hard to bring down.
But some numbers don’t lie. The Canucks went 4-6 two years ago and 4-5-1 last year — rare instances under head coach Bobby Lake — and those records fuel Grant as he embarks on his third year at quarterback.
“That’s our motivation now,” Grant said. “We’re trying to do something different this year.”
It starts under center.
“Kyle is a great run-pass threat,” Lake said. “He throws the ball well and he’s an explosive runner. As he continues to improve his decision-making, he’s going to be that much more dangerous. When you have a dual-threat quarterback making good decisions, it puts a lot of stress on the defense.”
Lake added, “The best thing about Kyle is his leadership and how hard he works. He works his tail off.”
That’s how you become a three-year starter at quarterback, especially at 5-foot-7.
“I don’t like people saying, ‘You can’t do something,’ ” said Grant, who also plays center field on the baseball team. “People said, ‘He’s too small to play this, he’s too small to do that.’ But you even see it in the pros, a whole bunch of smaller players with a lot of talent. I use what I’ve got to the best of my ability.”
Last fall Grant threw eight touchdown passes and ran in three scores. The threat of his running, especially on roll-outs, collapsed defenses to the point where he averaged an impressive 15 yards per completion.
Most of his targets from last season are gone, including Chris Smith, who is playing collegiately at Temple. Turnover was high for the Canucks, who will rely on a small but capable crew of upperclassmen to hold things together. Halfback/linebacker Glenn Benson and tight end/linebacker Hasani Eason also are filling those roles.
“That core group of seniors have been great examples for our young kids,” Lake said. “They’re encouraging them positively but they don’t let them slack either.”
One emerging senior who should help take some pressure of Grant is Stefaun Harris, who is coming off a superb spring track campaign and adds an explosive element at halfback. On defense Harris will play cornerback opposite Grant.
“That man is fast — he runs a 4.5 (40-yard dash),” Grant said. “He will be a tremendous asset.”