By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
Queen of Peace head football coach Robert Kearns has been around the game of football for more than three decades, including two tours of duty as the head coach of the Golden Griffins.
So it’s safe to say that Kearns has seen his fair share of games and players over the years.
And although Kearns has only been back at QP for a few months, he didn’t have to be there long to reap the praises of senior do-everything Kevin Momnohin.
“He’s the most sensational player I’ve seen in my 32 years of coaching,” Kearns said. “He just goes right to the top. He’s a coach’s dream. I’ve seen Knowshon Moreno (of the Denver Broncos) and Donald Brown (of the Indianapolis Colts) and he’s right there with them. You can’t teach what he has. He just has another gear. He’s able to cut and turn and once he gets his shoulders squared and going up field, watch out.”
In the Golden Griffins’ recent 49-37 victory over Becton Regional, there were a lot of people – especially the members of the Becton grid squad – who had a chance to watch out for Momnohin, who enjoyed one of the best all-around games in Bergen County high school football history.
Try these numbers on for size.
Momnohin carried the ball 24 times and collected an astounding 322 yards and scored four touchdowns. He also caught eight of quarterback Anthony Villano’s passes for an additional 152 yards and two more touchdowns. Monmohin also scored twice on point after touchdown conversions, giving him 42 of the Golden Griffins’ 49 points. Between his rushing and receiving achievements, Momnohin combined to gain an unfathomable 474 yards of total offense on his own.
For good measure, Momnohin collected eight tackles on defense and sealed the victory with an interception.
Is there any doubt that Momnohin would be selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week?
Momnohin earns the distinction of being selected as Athlete of the Week for the third straight year, one of only a handful of athletes to be honored three times.
For good measure, Momnohin had 205 yards rushing, 102 yards receiving and four touchdowns in the Golden Griffins’ 37-30 win over neighboring rival St. Mary of Rutherford on Saturday, pushing the Golden Griffins’ record to 3-1. In four games this season, Momnohin has now scored 15 touchdowns.
After the Becton explosion, Momnohin said he was surprised to learn of the incredible totals he reached.
“To be honest, I didn’t know until the game was over,” Momnohin said. “I then said, ‘Wow, it was a big game for me.’”
A lot of people joined Momnohin in their astonishment.
“Well, it was definitely a career high,” Momnohin said, still laughing.
It was actually a Queen of Peace single game school rushing record.
“I said that during the game that it had to be a school record,” Kearns said. “I was actually getting tired watching him run. He just kept going and going. It was like he ran 17 miles in the game. It was almost like running a marathon. I told him that I understood if he was a little tired, but he stayed in there. ”
A year ago, Momnohin might have had a tough time staying around late in a game to set a school record. He battled a string of injuries and spent a good portion of last season on the sidelines nursing those injuries.
“It was definitely a goal this season,” Momnohin said. “I had to stay healthy. I spent a lot of time in the weight room to get stronger and to work on conditioning. I had to stay strong and I had to stay healthy.”
Momnohin said that he likes the idea he’s no longer just a running back, that he’s catching passes as well.
“I was a receiver before I became a running back,” Momnohin said, “I had to be convinced to accept the fact that I was a running back. But it definitely opens up things when teams try to key on me and it definitely does make me more of a double threat.”
What also makes Momnohin more dangerous are the players around him. His twin brother, Keith, is a fine back and receiver in his own right. Quarterback Villano has amassed more than 700 yards passing and eight touchdowns in the first four games. Fullback Tajier Jefferson has eclipsed the 100-yard plateau in each of the last two games.
“The biggest difference now is that we can spread the ball around,” Kearns said. “But Kevin is the one who makes everyone look good.”
“My brother, Tajier and Anthony can give me a break,” Momnohin said. “It’s opened things up for those guys to also make big plays.”
Incredibly, there was a point last summer where it looked as if the Momnohin brothers were not going to return to QP for their final year of high school. There was a change in football coaches, with Steve Romano leaving and Kearns returning. The Momnohins were almost headed to Orange High School.
“But I started at Queen of Peace and wanted to stay at Queen of Peace,” Momnohin said. “I wanted to finish what I started.”
Kearns just adores Momnohin – and deservedly so.
“I can’t stop talking about him,” Kearns said. “He’s just amazing. The biggest thing that stands out about him is his personality. He’s smiling all the time. When I look at him, he’s smiling and all he says is, ‘just give me the ball.’ He’s the kind of kid that a father would want for a son.”
“He said that about me?” Momnohin asked. “I’m speechless about that. For him to give me such a high compliment like that is amazing and means a lot.”
Although he’s collected more than 1,000 yards in total offense and scored 15 touchdowns in four games, Momnohin is still without any college offers. He also has the grades to qualify in college right away.
“I’m as amazed as anyone can be,” Momnohin said. “It’s kind of stressful that I haven’t been offered yet. But without a doubt, if I keep putting up numbers like I have been, I would imagine the scouts and recruiters will come. I’m going to go all out. It’s my last year and I’m out to impress the college coaches.”
Momnohin said that he still can’t believe what he did in the Becton game.
“I’ve watched the films and as I play it, it’s still shocking to me,” Momnohin said.
And as for being a Golden Griffin?
“I’m definitely glad I made the decision to stay,” said Momnohin, who plays basketball in the winter and runs track in the spring. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”