By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
Nick Edwards became the new head football coach at Kearny High School last month and he wanted to do something right away to spur some interest in the program.
“I had all these ideas of things I wanted to do once I got the job,” Edwards said. “I wanted to show the community and especially the kids what I’d like to do. The kids are where I have to start, especially with the little ones.”
So Edwards decided to organize a football camp for kids ages 7 through 14. Basically through getting the word out with phone calls, texts and e-mails, Edwards put together the three-day camp and remarkably had almost 50 participants.
“I’m extremely excited, because this was all about word of mouth,” Edwards said. “I got in touch with some of the coaches from the Kearny Generals (the town’s youth football program) and they got the kids to come out. I’m very pleased and happy. I never thought we would get that many kids.”
During the first day of the camp, held at Kearny High School, the kids learned all about offensive skills.
“We taught them how to get in a proper stance,” Edwards said. “We taught them how to properly hold a football and run with the football. We taught them how to catch as a receiver.”
The second day, it was the defensive side.
“We worked on the different positions, like how to play defensive back and linebacker,” Edwards said.
The third and final day was strictly for fun. There were competitions for punting, passing and placekicking.
“We wanted to make it fun for the kids, so they get some interest in the sport and want to come back,” Edwards said. “Hopefully, they enjoyed themselves that they want to play football in the future.”
Edwards said that there were some Generals players with prior football experience, but a majority of the campers were kids who were playing football for the first time.
“That really excited me that they were here,” Edwards said. “Most were kids just interested in playing football.”
Edwards had solid assistance from his assistant coaches, but also his returning varsity players.
“We made sure they were there,” Edwards said. “The players have to be ready to be adults in real life. They have a responsibility with the younger ones. I go back to my younger days and I remember watching my brother play and looking up to him. The little kids had fun with all the big kids around.”
One of the bigger kids was former Kearny player Wenner Nunes, who has a chance to be a starting offensive tackle at Lehigh University this fall.
“Wenner is a great kid and I have a great relationship with him,” said Edwards, who was an assistant coach under Oscar Guerrero when Nunes played for the Kardinals. “It was great to have him here. I knew Wenner would be a good college player.”
Kyle Griffin, who is headed to Springfield College to play football, was also on hand to help the youngsters.
“Those are two kids that the little ones can look up to,” Edwards said.
Edwards was impressed with the level of talent that participated in the camp.
“There were a lot of kids that opened some eyes,” Edwards said. “Some play for the Generals, so I can see a kid who has the fundamentals already and perhaps someday can help us. It’s a reason to get excited for the future.”
One of the most impressive youngsters was sevenyear- old Vincent Richard, who played flag football last year and will join the Mighty Mites this season.
Richard was throwing the football 35 yards in the air with regularity in almost stunning fashion.
“I like playing football,” Richard said. “I learned how to throw the football the proper way. It’s definitely going to help me when I play.”
Obviously, Richard is a quarterback – and his favorite player is Eli Manning.
“I want to be like Eli,” Richard said.
Jacob Platero is a 13-yearold defensive back who plays for the Generals. Platero was one of the better competitors in the placekicking competition.
“It’s really not a position I want to play,” Platero said. “But I gave it a try.”
Platero is another Giants fan whose favorite player is Victor Cruz.
“I wanted to be here, because I wanted to learn more about football,” Platero said. “I couldn’t throw well at all before this week and now I learned the right way to throw. I’m glad they had this camp. It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot.”
Jimmy Mullen is a state champion wrestler, but the 9-year-old showed off his football prowess.
“I can’t say which sport I like better,” Mullen said. “But I like playing football. This week has been awesome. I learned how to grip the ball and being a quarterback that helps. It’s good to start thinking about football, because the season is coming up. We learned everything here, offense, defense, kicking, punting. It was great.”
All in all, it was a great week for Kearny football.
“It was the start of a new beginning,” Edwards said. “I want to do the right thing for the kids and the community.”
It looks as if Edwards is well on his way.