By Justin Rodriguez
Section 9 Football Insider
Kymanni Dennis often begins his workout before he arrives to Liberty football practice.
With sweat dripping down his brow, Dennis usually rides his bike to practice, trekking up the long, steep hill on Buckley Street that leads up to Liberty High School. Dennis is old school tough and a hard worker — it’s just how he was raised.
It’s who he is.
Dennis also wants to be something else.
“My goal is to be a 1,000-yard rusher this year,” Dennis, a junior running back, said.
Judging by his breakout performance last year, rushing for 1,000 yards is seemingly well within Dennis’ reach. Playing behind one of Section 9’s best running backs, Roy Penn-Cosentino, Dennis rushed for 667 yards, averaging 7.2 yards per carry with four touchdowns. Penn-Cosentino put up 1,791 yards and 23 touchdowns last year.
“I think Kymanni will really step up for us, not just as a player, but as a leader,” said first-year Liberty coach Joe Franke. Franke was a two-way standout for the Indians, graduating in 2012. “He is a downhill runner who looks for contact. Kymanni is pretty fun to watch and he’s just such a tough kid. I think paired up with (running back) Jake Lesczynski that he can do some serious damage.”
(Liberty running back Kymanni Dennis)
According to Franke, Dennis has bulked up during the offseason. He is a 6-foot-3, 205-pound combination of power and speed. Dennis flashed his potential last year in a heartbreaking 35-27 loss to Marlboro in the Section 9 Class B playoff semifinals. The Indians led the Iron Dukes, who went on to win the Class B championship, by six points entering the fourth quarter.
Dennis rushed for 161 yards and a touchdown in that game.
“The kid was a game changer,” Marlboro coach Brian Beck said. “He was the ultimate compliment to Roy Penn-Cosentino. He just has raw talent. He is like (Marlboro quarterback) Sam Mongelli, he can turn something into nothing. I would think that Liberty will move him around this year. As coaches, we want our athletes to carry the load.”
Dennis, a native of the Bronx, chalks up his work ethic to his single mother, Floret Ferguson. She works as a Certified Nursing Assistant, but always makes time to go to his games. Dennis is the youngest of eight brothers and uses his mother as motivation and an inspiration.
“My mother is the one who keeps me going,” Dennis said. “She’s done a lot for me and I try to help her out any way I can. She worked hard for me and I try to work hard for her. My mom did an amazing job raising me and that is where I get my work ethic from.”
Follow Justin Rodriguez on Twitter at jrods9insider; Email: email@example.com