Not all old football truisms hold their value over time.
Remember the ancient idea that water breaks were for wimps? Thank goodness that one is passe. And, judging from the mass aerial attacks that dominate the NFL and much of college football, “three things can happen when you pass and two of them are bad” doesn’t hold much water any longer.
But “you win with seniors” certainly still brings currency – especially when you have seniors such as Phillipsburg’s.
The Stateliners have eight returning senior starters and other 12th-graders ready to contribute back from a 9-3 team that reached the North 2 Group 4 sectional final.
Representative of the strong senior class are the five captains: running back/middle linebacker Garrett Boures, quarterback/linebacker Danny Fisher, running back/defensive back Ja’Quan Jones, two-way lineman Robert Melise, and tight end/defensive end Zach Troxell.
That’s a lot of captains – but that’s a lot of a leadership as well.
“They are all great leaders,” said Stateliner coach Frank Duffy, whose team is preparing for its opener Sept. 9 at Franklin. “They have all totally bought into our program.”
These are seniors you can win with, and indeed have won with. But since last year’s nine wins did not include one over Easton, or one in the North 2 Group 4 state final, or one versus Bridgewater-Raritan that cost P’burg a division title, they are most certainly not satisfied with 2015. After all, the winningest team in New Jersey history is allowed lofty goals.
To reach such heights, the seniors know they must step forward.
“We have to encourage the team at all times,” Troxell said. “We have to get on the team to be together.”
There’s also leading by example. Melise stressed setting a good example by knowing his assignments and hitting them every time.
“We have a new defense coming in, though it’s the same concept,” Boures said. “We have to do our jobs and pick up the other guys.”
And, of course, “always play your heart out,” as Jones put it.
Fisher, meanwhile, is pure Garnet-and-Gray.
“Danny is your typical hard-nosed, tough P’burg kid,” Duffy said. “He has a great work ethic and is highly respected because of it.”
The goal of the seniors will be to create a football team like a family that, as Melise said, “has pride all together.”
The captains and seniors know that what success they have starts with them.
“Every senior and every starter has to to show leadership and confidence no matter what year ypu are but it always falls to the seniors and senior leadership,” Troxell said. “That’s the way it has been every year I have been here for four years. We have to make the team believe in itself.”
Especially when adversity strikes.
“We have to keep each other’s heads up,” Jones said.
That’s why you win with seniors – a truism Phillipsburg hopes to live by this fall.
Brad Wilson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @bradwsports. Find Lehigh Valley high school sports on Facebook.