MILLBURN, NJ – Under a cool, breezy evening at Dr. Keith Neigel Field, Millburn Football kicked off its 2019 season with a 34-9 win over the Kearny Kardinals.
The Millers got started early with a touchdown on their first possession. Senior quarterback Shane Sullivan took the snap and scrambled his way into the end zone on a long quarterback keeper. An extra point made it 7-0.
Sullivan would finish his night with four touchdowns including the keeper. He also handed off for one touchdown apiece to running backs Griffin Titan and Jake Zirlin, and also tacked on a touchdown pass in the second half to wide receiver Evan Gershoff.
Sullivan, a senior and third-year varsity starter said that tonight’s contest was a great chance for him and the team to put into practice what they had been working on before the season.
“Sometimes, some games are going to be hard,” Sullivan said. “We came in at the end of the half, we weren’t [doing] so well. But we did what we had to do to fight back [in the] second half. That’s what I learned last year, got to learn again this year, just keep going.”
“I think we did a very good job of continuing to fight in the second half. Score says it all, and we did a great job,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan and the offense were not the only ones having fun on the field. On the first defensive possession of the game, Millburn pressured Kardinals quarterback Chris Leimberg from the jump. He made a mistake and threw it right into the arms of Millburn middle linebacker Cameron Tuths, a two-year varsity starter.
Seeing nothing but open field in front of him, Tuths took it to the house for a pick-six. And after the extra point, Millburn was out to a rapid 14-0 start.
That score would hold up as the eventual game-winner, with Kearny only being able to muster a touchdown, extra point and safety the rest of the way.
For Tuths, who also recorded a second pick later in the game, his individual accolades were the result of a true team effort.
“First I have to give credit to the d line,” Tuths said. “On both of those interceptions, they were there right on the quarterback. Gave me easy interceptions. Especially Hudson Paris on the pick-six, the first interception.
“He was right there in the quarterback’s face, made my job easy. I get the interviews, but it’s really the d-line that deserves all the credit, and the rest of the secondary, for making the quarterback make some tough decisions.”
Tuths also said that it is key for him to impart to the younger players that doing their “homework” before each game and sharpening the mental side of their preparation makes playing in games much easier.
At the half, the school held a memorial presentation for former football coach Carmen Guarino, who passed away during the spring from cancer. Guarino’s friends and family were there as the school presented them with a custom jersey bearing his last name, as well as a proclamation from the statehouse honoring his life.
Sullivan said that being part of the ceremony inspired the team to come back and put the clamps down on Kearny in the second half.
Millburn returns to the gridiron next Friday, taking on Barringer in a home contest at 7:00 p.m.