In the summertime, many North students go on family vacations, hangout with friends for hours on end, and study for the upcoming school year. But for senior Kevin Murphy, the summertime is just as busy—perhaps even more so—than the actual school year. Between attending football workouts, participating in basketball camps, and playing golf tournaments to prepare for collegiate play, Murphy barely has time to breathe.
For a year-round athlete like Murphy, however, this is just another day at the office: “There’s some give and some take,” he said. Despite the daunting schedule, Murphy has learned to relish every moment of his athletic endeavors, which are now nearing an end at North. “Every sport can be a grind sometimes. Practices can be tough, with running, workouts, sprints, conditioning, all that stuff,” Murphy said. “Especially being a senior, I’ve tried to enjoy it and learned to have fun every day.”
Having played quarterback for the football team, point guard in basketball, and served as one of the top golfers on the golf team, Murphy has learned to lead his teammates both vocally, and by example. “Kevin’s always been a leader by action, and everyone follows his lead,” said senior Niket Hans, who played with Kevin on both the basketball and golf teams.
Murphy has not only led his teammates but has also helped a series of new coaches assimilate to his teams. In his time at North, Murphy has worked with five first-year coaches. Although each new coach brings in new ideas and perceptions of the players, Murphy hasn’t changed: “The coaching changes didn’t hinder his mentality. He continued to work hard to prove himself once again,” Hans said. Murphy has also had to help younger players adjust to the new concepts, which he has done brilliantly. “He’s always willing to help people that are unaware of what they are doing, and we all love him,” running back Robert Peterson, a senior, said.
The most drastic change for Murphy has been the arrival of former Hopewell Valley defensive coordinator Jeff Reilly, whose systems have been heralded for their unconventionality. Reilly brought in a completely different offensive system from the one run by former coach Chris Casamento. “It’s not always been easy, especially for football after having been with Casamento for three years. The new coach came in with a whole different system, and expectations,” Murphy said.
The new run-based offense has changed the role Murphy plays in games. Last year’s Knights averaged around 30 pass attempts per game; in contrast, this season Murphy threw an average of only 10 to 15 times a game, which hasn’t affected his throwing accuracy. “As Kevin’s receiver, I feel as if he is the best ball placer I have ever had. Every pass he throws is so perfect,” said wide receiver Malik Thompson. The emphasis on running has allowed Reilly to implement more play action passes—pass plays in which Murphy fakes a handoff to a running back—into the offense, further confusing opposing defenses and creating space for receivers to run through. “The play action forces the linebackers to bite on the run fakes, and because Kevin executes it so well he is then able to deliver the ball to the open receivers,” Reilly said. “We still use parts of the spread offense that he used in the past and that has been effective as well.”
Murphy attributes the offensive success to the team’s skilled position players, particularly the running backs. “We have great running backs like Robert and C.J. [Markisz], who didn’t really get a chance to show how well they could run the ball last year,” Murphy said. “This year, we have the best of both worlds where they get to run, and when we want to throw the ball they can go out and catch passes along with Malik and Pat Zeoli, which adds weapons to the offense, and makes us tougher to defend.” North has rushed for over 100 yards regularly this year, catalyzing the team to its first winning record since 2009.
As for college, Murphy hopes to play golf at a local school and to get a well-rounded education. No matter where his endeavors take him, his leadership and adaptability will serve him well.