Montclair Kimberley head coach Anthony Rea made very few changes after the opening week loss to Morristown Beard.

Rea and the Cougars were aiming to take the game to the ground and finish their drives.

And MKA did just that en route to the program's first victory of the season, a 28-14 win over Newark Academy on Friday night, Sept. 9, in a Metropolitan Independent Football League divisional battle. The Cougars are now 1-1.

"We just wanted to get better at what we were already doing," Rea said.  "We didn't feel we were that far away against Morristown Beard, so we truly believed that with a great week of practice, we could be successful this week."

MKA got back to business with its running game, with seniors Nic Lembo and Jordan Fishback combining for 244 of the 259 total team yards on the ground. Fishback had three touchdowns.

"We were better at running the football, we played with more physicality, and we finished the game," Rea said. "Our goal was to play four full complete quarters, and we were able to do that."

The Cougars especially enjoyed the second half, after the game was tied at 14 at halftime.

"We were able to dominate the second half as well, which again was a marked improvement over the MorristownBeard game," the coach said.

In all, six different MKA players carried the ball, which he said is the goal each contest. "We wanted to utilize as many of those players as possible to run the ball," Rea said, pointing to sophomore Kalvin Thomas, juniors Jaylen Ankrah-Jones and Will Simms and sophomore quarterback Miles Black getting carries.

For the game, Lembo had 21 carries for 151 rushing yards.

"Nic Lembo did a great job running for us, particularly in the first half," Rea said, adding that the Cougars used Lembo in the Wildcat formation. "He has the ability to make some throws, so it's a good option when we want to go to it.”

MKA’s offense fooled Newark Academy with Lembo in the Wildcat when the senior started off running but threw the ball to Fishback for a 13-yard touchdown pass that tied the game at seven in the second quarter.

Defensively, the Cougars shut down Newark Academy in the second half, and on the day only gave up a first-quarter touchdown. The other Newark Academy touchdown was the result of an MKA turnover.

It was a team effort for the MKA defense, with Ankrah-Jones, Thomas, Lembo, junior Craig Brill and sophomore Nate Conforti contributing.

With the win in their pocket, the Cougars travel to another MIFL team, Fieldston, in New York City on Saturday, Sept. 17, at 1 p.m.  MKA defeated Fieldston twice in 2019. In both games the Cougars won by a total of eight points.

"We've played them seven times since I've been at MKA, and five of the seven games have gone down to the final minute, so we would certainly anticipate a game that will go down to the final moments," Rea said.

Montclair Kimberley Football Schedule
(Dates and times subject to change)
Sept. 17 at Fieldston, 1 p.m.
Sept. 24 Riverdale Country School, 1 p.m.
Oct. 1 Dalton School, 3 p.m.
Oct. 8 at Horace Mann, 2:30 p.m.
Oct. 14 at Pingry, 7 p.m.
Oct. 22 Newark Academy, 1 p.m.