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Phillipsburg quad football scrimmage with Warren Hills, Union, St. John Vianney

Lesson #1: taking care of the ball. The Stateliner offense was effective against all three foes but the ball wound up on the Phillipsburg Athletic Conference turf far too often. “Ball security is something we’re going to need to stress more,” said first-year Phillipsburg coach Frank Duffy. The good news is the situation seemed fixable – better attention to the ball at the ends of plays would have eliminated most of the loose balls.

Lesson #2: no more laundry. Penalty flags cost Phillipsburg two touchdowns. “The penalties are what I was most bothered by,” Duffy said. “We had a screen pass touchdown called back for a hold and we had illegal-touching called when we covered our tight end. But we’ll clean it up – this was just the first scrimmage.”

Quarterback still open. Duffy was pleased with his junior varsity quarterback,Adam Pursel, who threw some striking deep balls. But he said the varsity QB battle between senior Danny Fisher and sophomore Jack Stagaard will continue. Both had their moments Tuesday; a deep TD toss by Fisher may have been the best.

Front four fantastic. Against three quality offensive teams – especially St. John Vianney, which oozed talent at the skill spots – the Stateliner defensive line wreaked havoc. Senior tackle Robert Melise spent more time in the Union backfield than the Farmer running backs did, and his colleagues ends Zack Troxell and Blaise Santini, and tackle Nick Josselyn pushed their foes around with some jarring explosiveness and hand fighting. “I liked our resilence we showed today,” Duffy said.

Grinding it out. Phillipsburg’s largely rebuilt offensive line took a while to hit its stride but once it did, the Stateliner ground game started to click as backs Ja’Quan Jones and Garrett Boures hit holes hard and either made tacklers miss (Jones) or ran them over (Boures). “I liked that we started to establish the run,” Duffy said. “Garrett Boures really ran the ball; he always runs hard but he got really positive yards today.”

Brad Wilson may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @bradwsports. Find Lehigh Valley high school sports on Facebook.

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