By GIUSEPPE UNGARO
After a recent game, Atlantic City quarterback Mike Costabile turned to fellow quarterback Nazim Derry with a smirk and told his teammate that there was no way Derry’s interview skills could compete with his.
It was the kind of joking around long-time teammates tend to do, except Costabile, a senior, just joined the Vikings this season. Despite being the quarterback of rival Holy Spirit in the past, it’s already apparent Costabile has been accepted by the Vikings.
That acceptance is important to Atlantic City’s success, especially since the Vikings employ a rare platoon at quarterback with Derry, the team’s full time field general last season. Costabile, who is more of a pocket passer, starts the game with Derry as a wide receiver for the first half. Derry, who has both an accurate arm and the athleticism to be more of a running quarterback, finishes the game.
Having Derry make an impact three different ways only makes the Vikings that much harder to defend. So far it has worked, with the Vikings winning three consecutive games after falling in the season opener to St. Augustine.
“We are happy with it. When Mike came over I knew it was a great situation,” Atlantic City coach Thomas Kelly said. “It wasn’t Mike coming over to save the day because we have a kid who is one of the greatest athletes in South Jersey who quarterbacked for us last year. It’s a great situation to have. Not a lot of people have two solid quarterbacks. Nazim is a playoff-caliber quarterback, one of the best athletes in South Jersey, and Mike quarterbacked games in the playoffs and in state championships. That is a luxury that we are blessed to have.”
“I know the system really well, probably better than anyone on the team, so when I go in I feel like we should get the job done because I know everybody’s position and what we need to do,” Derry said.
The Vikings are getting the job done on the gridiron. In a 19-13 win over Egg Harbor Township on Oct. 6, Costabile was 10-for-15 for 213 yards, 70 of which came on a Nahsir “Flash” Morgan touchdown. Derry caught three passes from Costabile in the first half — for 13, 12 and 10 yards.
Morgan, who is one of the best receivers in South Jersey, helps make life easy for both signal callers.
“They are my brothers. Mike, coming over as a transfer, there was a real bond immediately,” Morgan said. “Me and (Nazim) grew up together so he knows where I’m going to be at.”
Derry at wideout gives the Vikings another weapon on the outside to go along with Morgan, Cam Roberts and Iysa Muhammad. Costabile knows how fortunate he is to lead an offense with so many talented receivers.
“Playmakers are all over the field,” he said. “One, two, three, four, all wide receivers can make plays. I just have to get the ball to them; one cut and they are gone.”
He added: “It has been a very easy transition. I came in and started to work on chemistry, throwing the ball around a little bit. Things started out well and we have been rolling ever since.”
When Derry is under center, opposing defenses can’t focus on just the passing game. Against the Eagles, Derry threw for 171 yards and a touchdown in half of a game while also keeping drives alive with his legs. In the win, Derry ran through two would-be tacklers to score the game-winning touchdown.
“It’s more effective when the quarterback can run and throw the ball because you put pressure on the defense,” said Derry.
“How is the defense supposed to stop us when we have two effective quarterbacks going in there and doing their thing?” asked Costabile.
For now, the platoon is working for the Vikings, who are looking to qualify for the playoffs. Derry and the rest of the Vikings have bought in and accepted a former rival. The key word is former.
“He is one of the boys and that’s the way we love it,” Kelly said.
Contact Giuseppe Ungaro: firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @GDgisepu