Sports

For the First Time in Two Decades, Kennedy Knights Heading For State Playoffs

55ce55e2a1327051c502_kennedy_miller_ison.jpg
Miguel Miller (left) and Rashon Ison
f864357b8dab7984f26e_kennedy_shaon_stephenson.jpg
Shaon Stephenson on a TD run
8eb5a169ba30a89639e7_kennedy_jordan_henry.jpg
Jordan Henry making a tackle
727454124c5ab91e6bb7_kennedy_oliver.jpg
Oliver after scoring a touchdown
55ce55e2a1327051c502_kennedy_miller_ison.jpg

 

PATERSON, NJ – To outsiders, there was little reason to expect much from the Kennedy High football team. The Knights were coming off back-to-back 2-8 seasons. They hadn’t made the state playoffs since 1991. And in recent years there were fewer and fewer players coming out for the squad.

But at the start of the season, Knights’ head coach Ron Jackson had a feeling this team could break through. There was talent at the skill positions and a solid core of seniors.

Sign Up for E-News

In the third week of September, Jackson got the confirmation that his gut feeling was right. The Knights were losing to Fair Lawn 17-6 midway through the fourth quarter and they mounted a comeback. A touchdown made the score 17-12 and then Kennedy had the ball back and was facing a fourth-and-goal situation with the game on the line

“We were going to run a simple option,’’ Jackson said of the pivotal play. “They (the Fair Lawn Cutters) knew we were going to do it. Everybody knew it. And we did it.’’ The play ended in a touchdown that helped propel the Knights not only to that win, but to a season that has put them back in the state playoffs for the first time in more than 20 years.

“I felt we were going to be good,’’ said Jackson. “I just didn’t let anybody know about it.’’

Kennedy, with its 4-4 record, has clinched the eighth seed in the North Jersey Section 1 Group 5 playoffs. The Knights will play either Montclair or Bloomfield. Both teams are 7-0 and Montclair is No. 8 in The Star-Ledger’s state rankings. Passaic Tech seems to have secured the third seed.

Jackson said seniors Miguel Miller and Jordan Henry have been the big reasons behind the Knights’ success. Miller scored three touchdowns against Passaic and had two against Clifton, including the winning score in overtime. Henry, meanwhile, has been a stalwart on defense and Jackson said he’s among the state leaders in sacks.

Running back Shaon Stephenson, who had three touchdowns in the Fair Lawn game, Greg Oliver and quarterback Rason Ison also have excelled for Kennedy.

Two years ago, the Knights were suiting up only about 24 players, including many sophomores, and there was talk Paterson should merge its two high school football teams to ensure there would be a full squad.

But this, Kennedy started out with almost 50 players and still has about 40 on its roster. The extra bodies have helped. But the Knights still have found themselves far outnumbered in their four losses, Jackson said. In fact, he said, Ridgewood, Hackensack and Passaic Tech all had almost twice as many players on the sidelines.

Besides the state playoffs, Kennedy has one other game remaining on its schedule, the annual Thanksgiving Day contest against city rival Eastside High. The Ghosts this year are 2-5 and play Fair Lawn at Baeurle Field at 6 pm on Friday night.

Kennedy clinched its playoff bid on October 27, when its two competitors for the last playoff spot, East Orange and West Orange, lost. But since then, Hurricane Sandy and her lingering after-effects have shut down schools and kept the Knights from practicing, except for a workout on Tuesday.

On Thursday morning, snow covered Kennedy’s practice area at Totowa Oval. Jackson said it would be nice to be able to have money to rent the indoor bubble facility in Clifton for practice preparation for next weekend’s state playoff game. Otherwise, Jackson is just hoping for the snow to melt.

 

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Paterson

‘We Must Not Be Enemies’

May 9, 2018

Dear Editor

I want to take opportunity to congratulate Mayor Elect Andre Sayegh on his awesome election night victory and for running a campaign to unite all Patersonians. His message of “One Paterson” resonated with the electorate. I believe that Paterson's best days are ahead. He will govern the city the same way he campaigned, always putting Paterson and ...

Five Former Salesmen For Morris County Clinical Lab Sentenced For Bribing Doctors In $100 Million Test Referral Scheme

May 18, 2018

NEWARK, N.J. – Five individuals were sentenced today for bribing doctors in exchange for test referrals as part of a long-running and elaborate scheme operated by Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC (BLS), of Parsippany, New Jersey, its president and numerous associates, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Doug Hurley, 38, of Hillsborough, New Jersey, and Kevin Kerekes, 52, of ...

Pascrell Signs Bipartisan Discharge Petition to Force a Vote to Protect Dreamers

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) signed a bipartisan discharge petition to force a long-overdue vote on the House Floor to protect America’s Dreamers.

“Thanks to a cruel act by Donald Trump and inaction by this Republican Congress, Dreamers have been living under a cloud of fear and uncertainty,” said Rep. Pascrell.  “I ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.

 

Q. When did you join TAPinto.net?

I joined TAPinto.net in September, ...

Passaic County CASA Recognizes Volunteer Child Advocates at Annual Event

May 11, 2018

WAYNE, NJ- More than 50 staff members, volunteers, and board members from Passaic County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) celebrated the impact of CASA volunteers at the organization's Volunteer Appreciation Brunch on April 28, 2018, at Laurelwood Arboretum in Wayne. This annual event recognizes Passaic County CASA volunteer advocates and the difference they make in the lives of ...

PayPal CEO says Rutgers grads need to "Help Repair the World"

May 14, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Dan Schulman, president and CEO of PayPal, called on the Class of 2018 to take a stand for social justice as they graduate during a time of unprecedented technological and social change.

He talked about the decision at PayPal to rescind plans to build a global operations center in North Carolina following legislation many considered discriminatory against the ...

Murphy Signs Legislation Championed by Paterson Senator Nellie Pou to Give DREAMers In-state Financial Aid

NEWARK, NJ - Legislation co-sponsored by Paterson's Senator Nellie Pou (D-35) allowing students to apply for state financial aid assistance, joining nine other states nationally to make both tuition and financial aid available to DREAMers, was signed into law on Wednesday by Governor Phil Murphy.

The DREAM Act was a bill created by Congress to allow undocumented immigrants ...

Brownie Troop Donates Cookies to Paterson Military Food Pantry. Joint Effort by Great Falls Rotary and Passaic County Board of Realtors Continues to Thrive

May 19, 2018

Today was such a momentous day in the life of a Rotarian/Realtor and the perfect example of community service and partnerships.

Roger Fields, a fellow realtor and current President of the VFW post in Butler and his wife Joan, when approached by Brownie Troop 96521 Butler-Bloomingdale Service Unit regarding the donation of Girl Scouts cookies immediately provided them with my contact ...