By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
Kevin Momnohin took his rightful place among the state’s best high school football players Sunday afternoon.
The Queen of Peace senior running back had been selected to play for the North squad in the 36th annual North-South All-Star Classic, sponsored by the New Jersey Scholastic Football Coaches Association.
Momnohin was among the 90 players in attendance for the press conference at Piscataway High School Sunday afternoon announcing the team and also announcing that former New York Giants Super Bowl MVP and current CBS analyst Phil Simms was now involved with the game.
But Momnohin, the speedster from tiny Queen of Peace, certainly didn’t feel out of place one iota.
“I knew I was going to be picked, once I found out that Coach (Bob Kearns) nominated me,” said Momnohin, who rushed for more than 2,000 yards and scored 30 touchdowns for the Golden Griffins last fall. “Once I was picked, it was up to me to do the rest. I had to prove that I’m one of the best running backs in the state. It was hard for me not to get picked for this game.”
Momnohin will head to Scottsdale Community College in the fall, then perhaps move on to a NCAA Division I school such as Arizona, Arizona State or Connecticut, all of whom have shown interest.
For now, he will get one last chance to represent QP as a football player in the All-Star Classic, which will be held June 23 at 7 p.m. at Piscataway High School.
“It’s definitely a chance for me to show everyone that I am the best running back in the state,” Momnohin said. “People have been saying that I did it at a small school like Queen of Peace, that I played small time high school football. Well, now, I’m going to get a chance to show what I can do.”
The North All-Stars will be housed for four days at Kean University and will practice at both the New York Giants and New York Jets’ practice facilities, while the field surface at Kean is redone this summer.
Momnohin realizes that this All-Star game will be the first chance to prove he belongs there.
Stepping up the pace
“It’s definitely the first step for me,” Momnohin said. “I know I can play with the big boys. I first went to Don Bosco Prep and things didn’t work out well for me there. I went to Queen of Peace and my life changed.”
Needless to say, Momnohin was thrilled to be among the state’s best.
“I’m definitely extremely excited,” Momnohin said. “It’s an opportunity that I have now that I never thought I would get.”
Momnohin has kept busy during the winter and spring months, playing basketball in the winter and currently participating with the Golden Griffins’ track and field team in the spring.
“But my bread and butter is football,” Momnohin said. “Everyone knows that. I know I’m a football player.”
Momnohin said that he still hears complaints about his achievements at QP.
“People constantly say that I did it at Queen of Peace, not a big time program,” Momnohin said. “Now I have the opportunity to play with and against the best. I’m going to show everybody what I can really do. I think I have more on my back because I have to show that I can play with the big boys.”
Momnohin expects a huge local following at the game.
“Oh, my God, everyone at Queen of Peace is excited for this game,” Momnohin said. “Even though we’re a small school, we’ll have the highest fan base at this game. The whole Queen of Peace community is going to be there. They want to see me have fun and compete.”
Simms met briefly with Momnohin and posed for a picture. He relayed stories that he first lived in Lyndhurst when he signed with the Giants and remembers some of the great football rivalries at Lyndhurst and Queen of Peace.
“I’m doing this because of the great high school football coaches in New Jersey,” said Simms, who still donates his services to work with local quarterbacks, like former Lyndhurst quarterback Danny Kesack last year. “It feels good to be involved in a game like this. I’m just honored to be a part of it. I love the way the football people in New Jersey have always treated me. I talked about doing this with my wife and children and they all said that I have to do it. They’re also all excited about it.”
Simms’ son Chris played briefly in the NFL and his younger son Matt is a backup quarterback now with the Jets.
“It’s a good thing they all know about high school football in New Jersey,” Simms said.
Momnohin also knows his fair share about New Jersey high school football.
“I definitely know I can play in this game,” Momnohin said. “There’s no doubt in my mind.”
Come June, he’ll get a chance to prove those words to be worthy.