By Justin Rodriguez
Section 9 Football Insider
Every team in Section 9 could use someone like Newburgh sophomore Syncere Tatum, a player who comes out of seemingly nowhere to make an impact for the team.
Maybe he replaces an injured starter and is successful, or steps in for someone who has graduated and makes a name for himself. He could be a player who goes from average starter to star.
Tatum came up from the jayvee full of promise, but has made the most of his opportunities, helping the Goldbacks to their fifth consecutive Section 9 Class AA championship. Newburgh, the three-time defending champion, takes on Pine Bush for the title at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Faller Field in Middletown.
“I didn’t expect to get this much playing time,” Tatum said. “It feels good to have this kind of success. I was just on a mission when (running back) Jadon (Munroe) got hurt. There was a lot of pressure on me and I wanted to step up for my team.”
Tatum, who is 5-foot-4, 150 pounds, began the season as a wide receiver in Newburgh’s spread offense. He was also used out of the backfield, but Munroe is the Goldbacks’ No. 1 running back. However, when Munroe missed time in the middle of the season with a hamstring injury, it was Tatum’s time to take off.
Tatum has rushed for 629 yards and nine touchdowns this season. Munroe leads the team with 833 yards and eight scores. Newburgh quarterback Terry Anderson has 787 yards and nine touchdowns.
“I think Syncere has done a good job filling in for me when we needed him to,” Munroe said. “I didn’t know what to expect from him this year, but he has showed up when we needed him to. Syncere has been important to the team and has made a big impact. We all trust him and know he is capable of making big plays.”
Tatum ran for 115 yards and three touchdowns in Newburgh’s 42-20 over rival Monroe-Woodbury in the Class AA semifinals. Munroe had 183 yards and two scores. Newburgh coach Bill Bianco and offensive coordinator Tim Hendershot ditched the spread and a one-back attack for a Double Wing-T attack late in the first quarter.
That put Tatum and Munroe in the backfield to make plays. Newburgh has run the Wing-T successfully in the past, but scraped it early last year for an I-formation and then the spread offense. The Goldbacks began installing the Wing-T in practice about three weeks ago and rolled it out against Monroe-Woodbury.
Bianco isn’t saying what scheme he will run against Pine Bush, but the Wing-T would make sense with the Tatum-Munroe connection clicking. Munroe is a combination of speed and power. Tatum is speedy and possesses incredible vision on the field.
Newburgh has certainly benefited from Tatum’s emergence from jayvee call-up to breakout player this year.
“We knew Syncere was a good player,” Bianco said. “He’s talented. I think he has done a good job staying prepared throughout the season and picking up things from Jadon. He’s got a natural vision out there. Some of it is coaching and some of it is God given. But we are happy about what Syncere has been able to do for us out there.”