A 14-year-old freshman football player from Marist High School collapsed playing basketball Monday and died last Tuesday morning, school officials confirmed.
Kylin Polhill, a 6-foot-1, 290-pound defensive tackle, was apparently playing basketball at a Newark grammar school when he collapsed and died a day later. Autopsy results were still pending Tuesday night.
Polhill never played organized football before this season and had moved into the regular rotation at Marist.
“He was very dedicated,” Marist head coach Juan Garcia said. “At first, he came to us, weighing 300 pounds and he couldn’t even run a single lap. But lately, he was finally getting it and was able to get on the field and make a contribution.”
Garcia said that Polhill’s teammates were in shock Tuesday. Garcia met with some of them early Tuesday morning and gave the team the day off. They will return to the practice field Wednesday in preparation for Saturday night’s game against Ferris of Jersey City.
“The best memory I have of Ky is his smile,” said Garcia, who at 27 is one of the youngest head coaches in New Jersey. “No matter what the kid did, he always had a smile on his face. I think we’re going to put the pain behind us and do it for him on the field. I asked them all today if they wanted to play and they all wanted to do it for Ky. We should all think of him all the time. We should always give one more play, one more rep, one more lap for Ky. “
Marist athletic director and head baseball coach Ron Hayward remembered Polhill coming to early summer practices, eager to play football.
“When he first came, his mother called me to see if he would be okay,” Hayward said. “He was a big kid who never played football before. He was excited to get the chance to play and be a part of it. He was a great kid who was always around the school.”
Hayward said that the emotions around the school Tuesday were “real bad.”
“The kids were all very upset,” Hayward said. “We have our own counseling and we hired another counselor to deal with it. The football coaches were in school early to talk to the kids. We’re going to do whatever we can to make sure the kids understand. It’s the one thing you can’t control and as a coach, it’s the biggest fear.”
Marist has a 3-5 record this season, but will participate in the upcoming NJSIAA Non-Public Group 1 state playoffs.
“We’re playing the rest of the season for Ky,” Garcia said. “We talked to the players about life and how you can never take anything for granted.”
A candlelight vigil was held Tuesday night near Polhill’s home in Newark.
Polhill is the first active Hudson County football player to die during a season since former Snyder captain Tahid Ramsey collapsed after making a hit in a game against Ferris and died a day later in September of 1996. Ramsey was 17 years old…
On a brighter note, a Hoboken native is poised to make the record books as the youngest half marathon runner ever.
Anthony Russo is just five years old, but he’s already an accomplished runner.
“When he was about four years old, he ran around the block twice, which I thought was a mile,” said Anthony’s dad Nick Russo. “I thought that was pretty good endurance.”
The next step was two miles, then four. Young Anthony, the grandson of former Hoboken Mayor Anthony Russo, was on his way.
“I wanted him to play T-ball, but he didn’t like the way the glove felt on his hand,” Nick Russo said. “He just started running and took off with it.”
With mom Olivia doing most of the intense training with him, young Anthony has increased his distances.
“I’m not a runner,” said Olivia Russo, a former English teacher at St. Anthony High School. “I’m just doing it to keep him company. I used to be a personal trainer, so I know what it takes, but running was not on my list. But he keeps me going with him. He runs 11 miles now and then wants to go play. Anyone who sees him is amazed.”
Runner and mom play games together while they run for two hours a day.
“We play a game called ‘Pirates,’” Anthony Russo said. “We think that people on bikes are pirates and they’re going to steal our treasure. It makes it fun.”
Young Anthony has been running 35-to-40 miles a week to prepare for Sunday’s Double Cross Half Marathon in Trenton. Race organizers had to double check when they received Anthony’s application because of his age.
If he finishes the 13.1 mile course, Russo will become the youngest runner to complete a half marathon in the nation. He’s expected to finish in two hours and 36 minutes. The record holder is a six-year-old girl from Dallas, who finished her half marathon in two hours and 47 minutes.
“It’s a cool thing to do,” young Anthony said. “I’m happy I’m getting this chance. I feel tired, but I keep going. I’m actually amazed I can do it.”
A kindergarten student, young Anthony said his teacher is aware of his running prowess.
“One of my friends runs one mile and he thinks he can beat me,” Anthony Russo said. “But he can’t beat me.”
After Sunday, no one can beat young Anthony Russo….
Speaking of marathons, two of the top local finishers of the New York City Marathon hail from Hudson County. Eugene Daly of Hoboken finished 64th overall in 2:35.12 and Michael Quinlan of Weehawken was 198th overall in 2:46.49…
Talk about a happy homecoming. Former St. Peter’s Prep hockey standout and former Reporter Athlete of the Week Kyle Palmieri came home with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks last week and scored the game-winning goal against the New York Rangers. Palmieri went to Prep from 2005 through 2007 and is now entrenched as a solid forward in the NHL…
Evan Rodriguez gets another chance in the National Football League. The North Bergen native and former Hudson Reporter Male Athlete of the Year, who was released by both the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins earlier this year, has signed a contract with the Buffalo Bills. Here’s to hoping that Rodriguez keeps his head on straight and makes the most of what is his truly last chance in the NFL…
Here are some of the best performances by local high school gridiron greats: Ferris freshman
D’Vontay Harris of Snyder might have been sailing under the radar this season, but he had eight carries for 200 yards and two TDs last weekend.
Also, Jan Castellanos of Secaucus had 141 yards on 17 carries and two TDs; Corey Walker of Snyder had 140 yards on 14 carries; Michale Williamson of Hoboken had 127 yards and two TDs and Lincoln’s Devel Jones continued his great year with 113 yards…
In boys’ soccer, Secaucus had a home game in the opening round of the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I tournament and won 7-3 over METS Charter of Jersey City, thanks to four goals from Colby Iyer and two goals and an assist from Sean O’Boyle. It was the first home state playoff game for Secaucus in recent history…
Hudson Reporter H.S. Football Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (7-1). 2. Union City (6-2). 3. Lincoln (7-1). 4. Hoboken (6-2). 5. Secaucus (6-2). – Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.