By Matt Nestor
The Harlem Huskies had a great mix of juniors and seniors last year en route to a second-place finish in the NIC-10 and a playoff appearance.
While the seniors on that team provided most of the leadership, the underclassmen provided a lot of the pop.
Led by Keenan Kellet, Casey Beck, Demetris Fambro, Brian Phomboutdy and Tyler Cox, among others, the Harlem seniors were expected to lead the Huskies back to the playoffs, and possibly a conference title.
But the season got off to a rocky start when the Boylan Titans dropped the Huskies 22-10 in the season-opener. After several routine blowouts, the Huskies went into their next test against Hononegah unsure of what to expect.
But behind their senior leaders, the Huskies beat Hononegah handily, and now appear to be headed in the right direction heading into the playoffs. Head coach Jim Morrow said something seemed to be missing for Harlem heading into the Boylan game, but he thinks the team has put it together behind the seniors.
“I think we’re a different team,” Morrow said. “We’re a lot better. I don’t think it happened until week three when we played Belvidere. We came together, juniors and seniors, two classes becoming one football team. There are a lot of good teams out there getting better every week, and I think we’re one of them.”
Wide receiver and defensive back Tyler Cox seems to be the glue that holds it all together. In addition to playing offense and defense, Cox is also the lead kick and punt returner.
“He’s probably one of the fastest kids in the NIC-10,” Kellett said about one of his favorite targets. “He can catch. He can get yards after the catch. He does punts. He does everything. He’s just a very good player overall.”
Much of Harlem’s success comes from what Cox does once he gets his hands on the ball. He torched Hononegah in their matchup with kick returns, made several big catches for first downs, and intercepted a pass.
Morrow knows Cox is one of the keys to their success. He said the team will do anything it can to find ways for him to make plays.
“There is only one Tyler Cox, and I’m going to be sad when he graduates,” he said. “He’s an outstanding player, just like his brother, Mike Cox, was for us. He’s special, and we’re really lucky to have him.”
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From the September 30 – October 6, 2009 issue