With both his play on the field and his attire, Maurice Ffrench stood out from the rest of his New Brunswick High School teammates.
The senior running back and defensive back, who sported bright neon yellow Under Armor beneath his game jersey and football pants and also wore the same color cleats, turned in a stellar all-around performance in a 35-6 victory over incumbent Central Group II runner-up Carteret on Friday night.
With the win, which came as New Brunswick christened its new artificial turf field, the Zebras improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2005 and kept pace with Colonia and Woodbridge atop the Greater Middlesex Conference White Division.
Ffrench hauled in a 60-yard scoring strike, broke off a 55-yard touchdown run, turned a botched snap on a punt into a 79-yard scoring jaunt and also intercepted a pass that set up another New Brunswick touchdown.
“The kid is just electric,” New Brunswick head coach Don Sofilkanich said of Ffrench, the Home News Tribune’s Football Player of the Week. “He put on a performance for the ages that night.”
MyCentralJersey.com football analyst Marcus Borden, who covered the game, said he saw Tim Salem, an assistant coach from the University of Pittsburgh, to which Ffrench committed earlier this year, grinning as the game unfolded.
“I think, right now, Ffrench is one of the top players in the state,” said Borden, noting that Ffrench has improved his speed and strength from a year ago. “He reminded me flat out of a bullet train. He got outside (on one touchdown run) and there was no one that was catching him.”
Ffrench and backfield mate Samad Davila, who also scored two touchdowns, combined for 266 rushing yards.
The duo have been instrumental in leading a rebirth at New Brunswick, which went 3-7 last year after posting a 2-36 record over the previous four seasons combined.
“We are going in the right direction,” Sofilkanich said, noting that Ffrench has led by example. “He’s not a rah-rah guy. Everybody’s personality is different. He’s a big part of (New Brunswick’s resurgence) with what we do in the weight room in the offseason and stuff. We are trying to change the culture.”
Ffrench, who scored 13 touchdowns and amassed nearly 1,200 yards from scrimmage last season while being named All-Greater Middlesex Conference, is the first New Brunswick player to earn a Division I scholarship since Dontae Weaver signed a National Letter of Intent with Temple five years ago.
Weaver was one of 16 Division I scholarship players former New Brunswick head coach John Quinn groomed during his eight years at the high school, including current New York Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas and former Carolina Panthers receiver Dwayne Jarrett. Quinn’s teams compiled a 68-17 record and won three sectional championships.
Upon the advice of his football coaches, Ffrench ran track at New Brunswick this past spring, and placed second in the NJSIAA Group III 100-meter dash, clocking in at 11:22.
“I thought it helped,” Sofilkanich said. “I think it’s good for kids to play multiple sports and track definitely had an impact.”
Borden, who observed Ffrench wearing neon, said he told the New Brunswick star prior to kickoff that he was going to stand out on the field, perhaps in more ways than one.
“And he certainly did,” Borden said. “If anybody didn’t know who he was before that game, they certainly know now.
“He was phenomenal.”
GMC FOOTBALL WEEK 3 TOP PERFORMERS
Elijah Barnwell, Piscataway 17-193-1
Bashir Lauderdale, Colonia 35-164-2
Trevor Firgau, Metuchen 8-145-2
Samad Davila, New Brunswick 15-141-2
Maurice Ffrench, New Brunswick 5-125-2
Kyle Wiggins, East Brunswick 22-117-0
Michael Liberti, Sayreville 21-117-2
Dan Lupton, Bishop Ahr 19-116-1
James Liu, Spotswood 19-112-1
John Kressbach, Middlesex 17-110-2
Jason Lee, South Plainfield 29-110-1
Carlton Coleman, Monroe 17-110-0
Keshaun Henry, Woodbridge 8-105-1
Tracy Fudge, Woodbridge 15-17-193-1
Mario Nigro, South River 13-17-176-2
Haaziq Daniels, Edison 9-20-160-0
Tommy Galante, Bishop Ahr 16-26-150-0
Chase Barneys, Colonia 11-17-146-1
Dillon Seal, North Brunswick 9-25-146-0
Andrew Roberts, J.F. Kennedy 7-18-129-1
Artur Sitkowski, Old Bridge 11-26-127-0
Patrick Waldrop, South Plainfield 7-14-114-1
Ryan O’Shea, Highland Park 7-13-112-2
Josh Liao, South Brunswick 8-15-105-1
Danny Haus, Piscataway 8-12-100-1
Jah’bree Jeffery, New Brunswick 5-9-100-1
Khaliyl Everett, South River 5-142-2
Quaasim Glover, Woodbridge 9-141-1
Mark Rudolf, J.F. Kennedy 5-91-1
Jake Destefano, North Brunswick 3-87-0
Bryce Barneys, Colonia 4-78-1
Nick Yanik, Edison 3-76-0
Jake Esposito, Old Bridge 7-77-0
Justin Shorter, South Brunswick 3-73-1