Every quarterback must pass ‘The Test’.
And Phillipsburg sophomore Jack Stagaardaced his with straight-A’s in Friday night’s 20-6 win at Franklin in the Mid-State 38 Delaware Division opener for both teams.
‘The test’ can come at any time in the game, at any place on the field, in almost any situation. It comes unpredictably, often quite suddenly, and may not result in a touchdown or even a score at all.
But when ‘The Test’ comes, it feels like it’s a moment when the game is on the line and the tension ratchets up by a factor of 5, 10, 100.
You don’t know when ‘The Test’ is coming – but you sure know when it gets there. And some quarterbacks never quite pass it, never quite inspire confidence after failing ‘The test’ a few times (kids, ask your Philadelphia Eagle-fan fathers and grandfathers about Norm Snead).
But Jack Stagaard passed ‘The Test’ Friday night – two times over in fact, two times that he proved he's ready to bear the burden of being a starting quarterback for Phillipsburg.
Twice in the second half, Stagaard converted crucial third downs from deep in his own territory to keep Phillipsburg drives alive.
The first time the Stateliner soph found sophomore wideout Sterling Walker-Sutton for 10 yards on 3rd-and-9 from the P’burg 27. That 65-yard drive resulted inBrendan Grube’s second field goal of the night, this one from 26 yards coming on the first play of the fourth quarter, to put the visitors ahead 20-6.
“Sterling ran a perfect out pattern and my line gave me all the time,” said Stagaard, who wound up 6-for-12 for 77 yards on the night.
The second test was even tougher. This time the Stateliners faced 3rd-and-14 from their own 17 with 7-plus minutes left in the game. Stagaard calmly stood in the pocket, waited for routes to develop, and found senior wide receiver Garrett DuPont for 17 yards. Keeping that drive alive allowed the Stateliners to run out the clock with a 9-minute and 20-second march to end the game.
“We saw something we liked, and the protection for Jack had been there all day,” Phillipsburg coach Frank Duffy said. “We knew it would be open so we said. ‘Let’s try it’.”
Stagaard couldn’t praise his line enough, and the praise was deserved – Franklin didn’t get near him all night in the pocket. And P’burg’s receivers made plays – DuPont’s was not a routine grab.
But even with all that, Jack Stagaard had to pass ‘The Test’ when it came, had to show he was ready, had to show he could deliver.
And he did – twice.
Brad Wilson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @bradwsports. Find Lehigh Valley high school sports on Facebook.