Those trying to lose “the pandemic poundage” or the “quarantine quotient” engendered by this year’s forced inactivity might want to skip down a few paragraphs in this report on Phillipsburg senior two-way tackle Jordan Kiley.
OK, everybody left, here we go.
Kiley’s mission, you see, wasn’t to slim down since the spring. Rather the opposite.
“I really was trying to gain weight this offseason,” Kiley said. “I wanted to get bigger and stronger. I wanted to put on about 30 pounds.”
That was because Kiley would be shifting from left guard, where he played at 210 pounds as a junior, to left tackle, where more heft and strength, and somewhat less speed, are required.
So of course KIley lifted weights and followed a workout program, but there was a diet change too.
“I definitely ate a lot of steaks,” Kiley said. “I’d eat steaks once or twice every week. I am a big fan of filet mignons.”
Must have been a tough quarantine at the Kiley residence in Lopatcong, right?
But, in all seriousness, the whole program worked, and Kiley now mans the left tackle spot, and a place at defensive tackle, at 240 prime pounds as Phillipsburg (3-0) prepares to travel to take on Watching Hills (2-0) in a Big Central Conference Division 4 clash at 2 p.m. Saturday.
“Jordan embraced the role we asked him to play,” Phillipsburg head coach Frank Duffy said. “He really gained a lot of weight, good weight. He can really finish blocks well.”
Duffy was especially pleased with Kiley’s performance in last week’s 34-20 defeat of Hillsborough.
“Jordan did really well on defense at nose tackle,” Duffy said. “That position requires a lot of toughness -- there’s not a lot of scheming, just technique and drive.”
“I worked the most on my upper body,” Kiley said. “That really helped me get a better pushoff against bigger linemen. There was plenty of time for workouts during the quarantine -- it cleared a lot of free time.”
The result of all that work -- and those steaks -- has been very positive for Kiley this fall.
“I feel really comfortable doing whatever I can do out there,” he said. “The only thing was my speed. It isn’t as bad as it was, but it’s still terrible.”
Still Kiley gets a little inside help on the running/speed angle -- his father, Rich, is the Stateliners head girls track and field coach.
“He helps me with my form,” Kiley said. “It’s always a plus to have him help me.”
The switch to left tackle on offense, though, has lessened Kiley’s need for speed.
“Now that I am not a guard, I don’t have to pull (on running plays) and all I have to do is to focus on who I am blocking during the play and do my best against that player,” Kiley said. “I have been trying to balance my working on run and pass blocking. I like pass blocking and making sure my quarterback has a safe pocket to throw the ball.”
Lacrosse lends a hand
Footwork is critical for offensive line play, and Kiley credits being a multi-sport athlete for his improvement on that front.
“I am a long-stick defenseman in lacrosse, and that really helps with my footwork; that’s been a big part of what has helped me in football,” he said.
Kiley is blocking for two prime playmakers -- senior quarterback Matt Garatty and senior tailback Matt Quetel. Quetel ran for 161 yards and 3 touchdowns last week and has 322 yards on the season, and Garatty has completed 21 of 34 passes for 280 yards and 6 touchdowns on the season.
“Garatty can get us out of any situation,” Kiley said. “He does things I have never seen before with guys running around trying to chase him. And it’s always awesome blocking for Quetel, to let him do what he does best. We’re never satisfied with how we block; we can always do better.”
Duffy would agree.
“We left too many points on the board against Hillsborough,” he said. "We need to do a better job of finishing drives late in the game.
Kiley knows how demanding football can be for constant improvement.
“I have played football my whole life, since first grade,” he said. “I started out as a quarterback, and in middle school I always switched all over the field. I think playing different positions has given me a better knowledge of what happens on the field, and that helps me do whatever I have to on the line.”
Kiley may be a football lifer, but he came to Phillipsburg High School as a freshman from Monroe County.
“I think Jordan just goes to show that you don’t have to grow up in Phillipsburg to play football here.” Duffy said. “So many of our players, like Jordan, moved here from other places, and they adapt our culture when they come here as freshmen.”
Kiley, though, had a head start on becoming a Stateliner: his grandfather, Dave Osmun, was a state wrestling champion for Phillipsburg in 1958, and his uncles, David (P’burg 1989) and Matt (P’burg 1992) were both football captains.
Kiley fits right in.
“We ran a lot of defense last week where I was lined up over the center and I really enjoyed that,” he said. “The physicality really goes up when I am over the center, and looking to drive the center back as quickly and as far as possible.”
It’s on defense, though, that Duffy would like to see considerable improvement from last week’s performance. Watchung Hills may be 0-19 all-time against Phillipsburg, but there’s a first time for everything.
“We gave up too many explosive plays,” Duffy said. “I want fewer than three a game and we’ve given up 4 in each of the last two games.”
Kiley, who said he’d like to continue playing football in college, hears what the coaching staff is saying.
“We just have to do our 1/11 of our parts, and do our own jobs,” he said. “If we do that, I feel we’re unstoppable.”
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Brad Wilson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.