CO-ATHLETES OF THE WEEK 10-02-2011 Weehawken’s Corredor, Union City’s Moreira lead the state in rushing yardsBoth local grid standouts eclipse the 300-yard plateau, score four touchdowns

The Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Week feature has been a staple of this newspaper during the scholastic sports seasons for more than 20 years. It’s been written by this reporter for the last 25 years or so. More than 1,000 or so Hudson County high school athletes have been profiled in the feature over the last quarter century.
So there had to come a time when there would be two worthy candidates for the weekly honor and it would be impossible to select one over the other.
Sure, there have been features involving entire offensive lines as Athletes of the Week. Or track and field relay teams. Brothers, sisters, teammates, you name it. But they were all from the same teams and same schools.
Until this week, there had never been two athletes from two different schools chosen in the same week as Co-Athletes of the Week.
But when you look at the accomplishments of Weehawken’s Damian Corredor and Union City’s Isiah Moreira from last weekend’s football action, you’ll see why they created a slice of history and earned the honor together, the first non-teammates to earn the honor in the same week.
The two local players, who attend schools located just 12 blocks apart, were the two top rushers in the entire state of New Jersey last weekend.
Corredor carried the ball 23 times for 338 yards and scored four touchdowns in a 50-47 loss to Bogota. The junior also collected 12 tackles and had a fumble recovery.
Moreira, the starting quarterback for the Soaring Eagles, carried the ball just nine times, but collected 305 yards and also scored four touchdowns in Union City’s 56-14 victory over Kearny, the Soaring Eagles’ third straight lopsided victory this season. Moreira, also a junior, had to increase his rushing totals due to injuries to the rest of the entire starting Union City backfield.
It’s almost unfathomable to think that a quarterback could rush for more than 300 yards in a game, a statistic that even Corredor couldn’t comprehend.
“That’s just crazy for a quarterback,” said Corredor, who does not know Moreira. “I didn’t even know we were the top two in the state.”
So for both of their accomplishments, Corredor and Moreira have been selected as The Hudson Reporter Co-Athletes of the Week for the past week – and earned a distinction in doing so.
First, the story of Corredor, who even though he’s only a junior, has already earned his place as the best all-around football player in Weehawken history.
“I knew he was good,” said first-year Weehawken head coach Zach Naszimento. “But I didn’t think he was going to be this good. Every single time he touches the ball, he has the opportunity to score, no matter where he is.”
Corredor, who has rushed for 858 yards (the top total in the state) and scored 11 touchdowns in just three games, wasn’t overjoyed with his astounding performance.
“Everyone was telling me that I played a great game,” Corredor said. “But it wasn’t good enough. We lost.”
Corredor never thought he could lead the state in rushing yardage, especially after being told by new coach Naszimento that he was going to play a new position this season.
“When he told me I was going to be the fullback, I didn’t like it,” Corredor said. “But then he told me that 98 percent of the offense goes through the fullback, I was excited about the challenge. I welcomed that challenge. It definitely does help me. I feel like I’m a better football player now. I learned a lot with the new offense. I think it’s awesome that I’ve done so well. It motivates me to keep it going. Every game I feel like I have to back it up, so people don’t say it’s a fluke.”
Naszimento believes that Corredor has deceptive speed.
“It looks so effortless, like he’s not even running hard or fast,” Naszimento said. “He has that second and third gear that kicks in. We’re not reinventing the game. We’re just getting the ball to Damian and letting him go. And with all the success he’s had, he’s the first one to help his teammates. He’s a very unselfish kid. I never coached a kid like this. He’s everything you want in a football player.”
In the case of Moreira, he knew he had to take on a bigger responsibility with running backs Steve Le and Nick Espana out with injuries.
“Coach [Wilber] Valdez told me that it might take a couple more carries this week than I was used to,” Moreira said. “I didn’t think of it as more of a challenge, just more of an opportunity to make plays to help my team.”
But a quarterback collecting 300 yards?
“It wasn’t exactly the game plan,” Union City head coach Valdez said. “We had faith in some of our other backs. But it was something that just transpired as the game went on. We were going to use him as much as possible.”
Moreira broke off touchdown runs of 86, 55, 95 and 18 yards respectively. It reminded Valdez a lot of his former high school teammate Rashard Casey of Hoboken, the 1995-96 Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Year.
“He did have some runs that were Casey-like,” Valdez said of the former Red Wing standout who went on to play quarterback at Penn State. “He broke across the field and down the sidelines. He’s a dual-threat quarterback. He throws the ball very well and I always knew he had the runner in him. He feels comfortable running the ball. It really was such an impressive night, having a quarterback run for 300 yards.”
Moreira grew up in Hoboken and was able to get to know Casey.
“I know Rashard personally and it’s an honor to be compared with him,” Moreira said. “I knew I had to do something big and I did. This game definitely raises my stock. People now know I’m a running threat as well. I’m not just a one-dimensional player.”
As noted, both players are only juniors, so they have a bright future. Both are also considered excellent college prospects, good players with good grades.
“I think this definitely should help his college chances,” Valdez said. “He already has seven touchdowns rushing this season and he’s got a great arm. He’s turning into the full package.”
And the two players made their mark in what was truly a weekend to remember. – Jim Hague

Jim Hague can be reached at

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