McFadden's versatility kicks into higher gear

Delran football player Justin McFadden. (Phil Anastasia/Staff)
Delran football player Justin McFadden. (Phil Anastasia/Staff)
Posted: October 03, 2012

Justin McFadden started punting last season.

Now, he regularly unleashes 45-yarders that change field position for the Delran football team.

McFadden started placekicking this season.

Now, he is 10 for 12 on extra points, and he made his the first and only field-goal attempt of his career, a 40-yarder.

"He's just a natural," Delran coach Pete Miles said.

Playing quarterback and defensive back is nothing new for McFadden. He has done that since he started playing youth football as a preschooler in Delran.

But it has been his versatility and newfound leadership skills that have sparked Delran to its first 4-0 start since 1994.

"I was always kind of quiet," McFadden said. "But last year in baseball, I was made a captain even though I was a junior. That kind of brought it [leadership skill] out of me. I've carried it over to football."

The 6-foot-1, 175-pound McFadden is 32 for 57 passing for 517 yards and six touchdowns. He also has run for two touchdowns.

McFadden has been the triggerman of a balanced Delran offense that features running back Mark Jukic (58 carries, 314 yards, four touchdowns), receivers Zane Campbell (9 catches, 231 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Kahlil Thomas (11 catches, 144 yards, 2 TDs), and tight end Troy Martino (5 catches, 67 yards, 1 TD).

"Our line has been the key," McFadden said. "We didn't have a lot of experience coming back, and those guys have really stepped up."

McFadden's passing was a given for the Bears this season. So was his strong work at safety.

What has made a difference, according to Miles, has been McFadden's kicking. He is averaging 37.8 yards on 12 punts, but his coach said those numbers are misleading because of one shanked kick.

"He's been punting them 45 yards on a regular basis," Miles said. "He's changed field position for us. It's really been a key for us because we've been pretty solid on defense."

McFadden, a top centerfielder and hitter, plans to play baseball in college, with interest in attending Virginia Commonwealth or Alvernia. But some people think he should punt in college.

"One of our coaches tells me that all the time, and my friends tell me that all the time," McFadden said. "I just got good at it all of a sudden."

McFadden has been even more of a revelation as a placekicker. In his first season in the role, he has been dependable on extra points - going 6 for 6 in a 42-13 victory over Palmyra last Friday - and has shown the ability to nail a field goal from distance in a tight game.

His 40-yarder came in a 23-20 victory over Bordentown.

"We had a good kicker last year, so I never really did it," McFadden said. "I just tried it this year, and it's worked out pretty good."


Contact Phil Anastasia at panastasia@phillynews.com or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter. Read his blog, "Jersey Side Sports," at www.philly.com/jerseysidesports

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