Unbothered by critics, Don Bosco football's Kyle Monangai retains a professional mindset

Photo: Chris Pedota,
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RAMSEY, N.J. — Everything about Kyle Monangai screams professional.

The Don Bosco Prep running back prides himself on reading blocks and opposing linebackers to find the open lanes. During the offseason, he doesn’t blindly just work on his strength and conditioning, he watches film to find what plays he made the most mistakes on and corrects them.

And he understands that for the Ironmen to be successful, there has to be no jealousy between him and fellow running back/slotback Jalen Berger.

“He’s really an intuitive player,” Don Bosco coach Dan Sabella said. “He processes things so well. I’ve been around quarterbacks for all these years and you like it when guys are like that. He really is a student of the game.”

Top games of the week: Don Bosco vs. St. John Bosco

It’s pretty easy to see where Monangai gets his approach. His older brother Kevin was a star at Seton Hall Prep and Villanova and played two seasons in the NFL and is currently an assistant coach with the New York Giants.

Kyle, a chiseled 5-10, 200 pounds, is seven years younger than his brother. Kyle took up football because Kevin did, but he promised himself he would never be burdened by Kevin’s success.

“When I was young I always said I want to make my own path and stay out of his limelight,” Monangai said. “He has his legacy. I want to build my own.”

Kyle, a Roseland resident, took a big step toward that when he transferred to Don Bosco from Seton Hall Prep after his sophomore season.

“I went to Seton Hall because of my brother and my family thought it was the best decision for me, but after a year and a half, I just realized it wasn’t the place that my brother went to,” Monangai said. “I wanted to go somewhere that made me happy and where I thought I’d fit in more.”

Critics thought Monangai made a foolish decision. With Don Bosco Prep, he’d be sharing the running load with Berger, the state’s top recruit in the Class of 2020. But he seemed unfazed. Monangai became the workhorse for the Ironmen, demonstrating great power and speed.

“I think that’s what everyone thought when I first got here,” Monangai said. “I got some hate from Seton Hall fans saying I would never play. I came here because I trusted my talent and I know Jalen is a great talent.”

Don Bosco opens up its season Friday night against its Salesian brother school St. John Bosco in California. It will be interesting to see just how big a factor Monangai will be. The Ironmen showed some Wildcat in a scrimmage with Monangai, who swears he can pass, although his one attempt last season was incomplete.

“I was making a smart decision,” Monangai protests, smiling. “I threw the ball out of bounds on purpose. Jalen was covered, so I threw it over his head. Hopefully, I get another opportunity this year.”

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