Roddy Morinho may only be a sophomore at Lyndhurst High School, but he already has a football resume that rivals those much older than him.
Morinho’s already been a team captain, a recipient of a state sectional championship ring and is a coach in Lyndhurst’s Rec Football program all before turning 16.
“Since I was born basically, I’ve been around it,” said Morinho. “I’ve been filming since like fourth-grade for the high school team, I’ve been playing since I was 3. Lyndhurst football is my life. That’s all I know, that’s all I’ve ever known.”
The past few Friday nights have spotlighted Morinho’s prominent role — star running back.
Lyndhurst has emerged from an 0-2 start to win three consecutive games and Morinho has emerged as its lead catalyst.
On Friday, Sept. 30, against Manchester Regional, Morinho scored five touchdowns — four rushing and one receiving — while running for a career-best 215 yards on 16 carries in a 49-18 victory.
The performance allows Morinho to add another item to an already impressive list of accomplishments — The Observer Athlete of the Week.
During the Golden Bears’ three-game winning streak, Morinho has accumulated 465 yards of total offense with eight touchdowns.
“He doesn’t play like a sophomore,” head coach Rich Tuero said. “He’s just a pleasure to have on and off the field. He’s a leader, he’s a leader in school, he’s a leader on the field, he’s a leader in the weight room. Roddy is a special kind of kid. He’s a kid you don’t forget and you love to coach.”
Morinho’s most recent game got off to a fast start, rushing for a 2-yard TD, then a 73-yard scamper to make it 14-0 in the first quarter. Known as a power runner, the 6-foot-0, 175-pound Morinho again showed off the speed with a 53-yard touchdown in the second quarter. In the third quarter, he ran for a 6-yard score, then capped off the performance when he caught a Shawn Bellenger pass for a 20-yard TD.
It was shortly after the fifth touchdown that Moirnho was alerted to just what he had accomplished.
“I got to the sidelines and senior captain Damian Weaver walked up to me and said ‘five touchdowns dude? That’s insane!’ I had no idea at first.,” Morinho said. “I always think I’m going to play my heart out. I always think I’m going to deliver, but nothing to that extent.”
It was a performance beyond Morinho’s expectations and also one that he was quick to hand the credit to Bellenger and especially his offensive linemen – juniors Nick Adamo, Jake Herman, Shane Keeler and Mike Rizzo as well as sophomore Mike Longo.
“I was watching the film before and on every play I had a hole. No matter what, I had a hole every single play,” Morinho said. “I’m so thankful for those five guys. I love those guys, they’re always doing their job no matter what.”
Film work has always been a part of Morinho, dating back to when he was much younger. First there was filming the games, as he noted earlier. As a seventh-grader, Morinho served as a team manager, manning the endzone camera for every game on the Golden Bears’ run to a state sectional title.
His contributions led to Tuero rewarding him with a championship ring.
“Watching him grow up and play you just knew by the type of kid that he is,” Tuero said. “He volunteered and filmed for us just because he wanted to be around the program. I knew the type of kid he was for a really long time.”
“Filming since fourth grade has helped me tremendously,” said Morinho. “I’ve gotten to know all of these coaches, I got to know how they coach, what to expect when I get here, what’s expected of me. I had a head start on everybody because I knew what was expected and what I had to do.”
Less than 24 hours after Morinho’s big night, his task was helping the next group of Golden Bears enjoy a similar head start. He and fellow sophomores Bellenger and Anthony Amaro are coaches of Lyndhurst Recreation’s heavyweights team and game day was that night.
“Football is my whole life so when my career is over, I want to show my love for the game and give everything I know to kids that are trying to get better and trying to go somewhere,” said Morinho, who would be following in the footsteps of his father, also named Roddy, who was his first coach and now the president of Lyndhurst’s Rec Football program. “I want to get them on the right path to where they want to go.”
If that path is similar to the one Roddy Morinho is currently on, the future will be bright for years to come.
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Jason Bernstein | Observer Sports Writer
Jason Bernstein joined The Observer as its sports writer in March 2022, following the retirement of Jim Hague. He has a wealth of sports-writing experience, including for NJ Advance Media (nj.com, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)