It didn’t take long for Alec Kiernan to put Suffolk II football on notice.
In fact, it took only two plays.
The Centereach halfback ran the second play from scrimmage 69 yards for the first score in a 14-7 victory over Smithtown West in the season opener Friday night and has been named Newsday’s Athlete of the Week. Kiernan, who went behind his pulling offensive linemen, said he had a feeling entering the game that the play was going to result in a huge gain.
“We knew that play was going to be one of the plays where it could go big,” Kiernan said . . . “I was excited. It felt great to score there.”
But just as the game and season was only beginning for Centereach, so was Kiernan. The junior rushed for 255 yards on 29 carries. He scored both Cougars touchdowns, including a 6-yard run with less than five minutes remaining to give his team a 14-7 lead.
“He’s one of those guys that just doesn’t seem to get tired,” coach Adam Barrett said. “He’s in very good shape, and late in the game he had many third-down conversions, some fourth-down conversions to keep the chains moving and keep us in possession of the ball. He just seems to have that second gear when it gets late in the game.”
Kiernan, who describes himself as a power back, said his 255 yards are a career high.. The 6-foot, 220-pounder has worked on improving his speed this offseason in hopes of rushing for more than 1,000 yards. After Week One, he’s certainly put himself in a position to reach that goal.
But don’t expect him to take all the credit.
“The offensive line definitely stepped it up in the second half, so I was able to get a lot of rushing yards,” Kiernan said. “But it wasn’t just me, the quarterback and our other running back, too.”
Barrett called Kiernan the team’s workhorse, constantly posting runs of 5 and 8 yards and being swift enough to avoid big hits from defenders. Kiernan was just excited to get back on the field after a long offseason. Despite Centereach entering the fall ranked No. 11 of 13 Suffolk II teams and not reaching the playoffs since 2002, Kiernan thinks the opening victory proves that the Cougars could surprise people.
“Definitely wanted it bad,” Kiernan said. “We all worked so hard and to get that first win is definitely a momentum booster for the whole team.”
Barrett echoed those statements.
“Getting that first win is always big,” he said, “and Alec was obviously a big part of that this week.”