Kearny tries to muddle through tough grid start

It’s a new high school football season, but it’s the same old story for the Kearny Kardinals.

The Kards have started off this season with losses to North Bergen and Bayonne by a combined score of 93-12.

Needless to say, it’s not a pretty scene, but head coach Stephen Andrews is trying his hardest to keep a stiff upper lip.

“Every day, we are getting better,” Andrews said. “A lot of the kids are starting from scratch, having never played football before. But the kids are showing up every day and working their tails off.”

Andrews said that he sees good things on a daily basis.

“I see progress,” Andrews said. “I tell the kids, ‘Just let’s get better.’ It might not be showing up on the scoreboard, but they are getting better.”

Leading the Kardinals is junior quarterback Chris Carson (5-6, 150), who is one of those kids playing football for the first time.

Carson is a lot like the immortal Doug Flutie, an undersized signal caller with a super-sized heart.

“He’s been a joy to work with,” Andrews said of Carson. “He has a lot of the leadership qualities you want in a quarterback. Comparing him to Doug Flutie would be a pretty apt description. When you look at him, you think that he’s not going to do much. He just needs more experience. I do see a very bright future in him. He has been wonderful from the minute he stepped in front of me. He’s a great kid. I really like him a lot.”

The Kardinals utilize two junior running backs in Adonis Chong (5-8, 180) and Gabe Ferrara (5-8, 165). They run an off-shoot of the old triple option offense, so Chong and Ferrara get a lot of chances to carry the ball with misdirection.

“They both have started for me since they were freshmen,” Andrews said.

The fullback is senior Alex Amorim (5-10, 180), so to be a member of the Kards’ formation and offense, Amorim has to be as good of a blocker as he is a wrestler during the winter months.

The team’s receivers are senior Ryan Gill (6-5, 200), the basketball standout and former Observer Athlete of the Week who is also making his mark as a football player, albeit after getting a late start.

The sophomore Josh Ruiz (5-7, 160) is the other receiver.

“He’s our hardest worker in the weight room,” Andrews said.

The starting tackles are senior Jaden Figueroa (5-9, 185) and junior Abisai Escobar (5-10, 260). The guards are sophomore Jayden Martinez (5-11, 265) and freshman Eli Ardolino (5-10, 265) with senior Matthew Udis (5-11, 205) at center.

Defensively, the Kards play a 4-3 alignment, with Udis and junior Andrew DaSantos (6-4, 200) at defensive end and Ardolino and Martinez at defensive tackle.

Andrews has to have a ton of faith in Ardolino to be a two-way starter as a freshman.

“He’s been a very unexpected pleasant surprise,” Andrews said of Ardolino. “He could be a college football player one day.”

The outside linebackers are senior Israel Ormaza (5-10, 175) and Chong, with Amorim and Figueroa playing inside linebacker.

Ferrara and Ruiz are the cornerbacks with Gill at safety.

The Kards have games against Hudson Catholic this weekend and Bloomfield next weekend. There is the thought that Kearny might be better off playing in the Ivy League division of the New Jersey Super Football Conference against teams of equal size and talent. It has yet to be determined, but Andrews thinks that it may be a possibility moving forward.

“When the idea of the Ivy League was created, we liked where we were headed,” Andrews said. “We weren’t expecting the Generals (youth) program to be practically dissolved. Now that there’s a chance it may happen. Our schedule is a killer. We have to decide within the next month whether we want to go that route.”

It would make a ton more sense than losing games 40-6 and 53-6.

“I’m just looking for us to make progress every week,” Andrews said. “As long as I’m seeing progress, then a few chips will eventually fall in our favor.”

Something’s got to give soon.

Learn more about the writer ...

Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer
+ posts

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”