Patience has paid off for Garrett DuPont.
And that alone makes the Phillipsburg senior wide receiver stand out in a distinctive way.
Patience is an increasingly rare virtue in athletics today at any level. Not starting right away? Time to quit, find another sport, or even find another, perhaps very distant, school. Or to lobby the coach, sometimes publically, to get on the field.
These days, impatience rules sports.
But DuPont, a 5-foot-8, 160-pound Stewartsville resident, shows how patience can pay off. He worked as if he was a starter. He watched upperclassmen and learned from them how to get on the field for Phillipsburg.
And he was patient.
“Garrett has put a tremendous amount of work in, and he waited his turn,” said Stateliner head coach Frank Duffy after Tuesday’s practice to prepare for Friday night’s Mid-State 38 Delaware Division game at Hunterdon Central.
DuPont didn’t mind biding his time.
“It wasn’t really that hard waiting,” he said. “I would on the scout team and watch the guys in front of me and see what they did well. Winning breeds winning, and I wanted to be like them. I looked at (class of 2015) wide receiver Yusef Shelton, he was a captain, and I wanted to make catches at wide receiver like he did. Yusef always gave 100 percent all the time and that is what it’s about at Phillipsburg.”
Shelton would have been very proud of DuPont Friday night at Franklin, when the payoff for his patience came at last. DuPont caught a key 17-yard fourth-quarter pass on 3rd-and-14 to keep a Stateliner drive alive, a drive that clinched the 20-6season-opening defeat of the Warriors.
“The coaches called me over at halftime and said I was wide open when we’d ran that play before, and they were going try and I run it again,” DuPont said. “I just wanted to do my job and make that catch to get the first down. I had full confidence in (sophomore quarterback) Jack Stagaard; I knew he’d be a good quarterback because I worked with him on JV last season. He knows how to do his job.”
So does DuPont. After some years as a quarterback when he was younger, he switched to wide receiver and he’s been there ever since.
“I was too young to pass much when I was a quarterback,” DuPont said. “And when they switched me to wide receiver I was actually happy to do a different part of football and be able to learn in a different way.”
DuPont didn’t stop working on football when he left the practice field.
“I would sit outside with my dad (John), about 10 feet away, and he’d throw the football hard at me that I’d have to catch it,” DuPont said. “He played on state championship football teams at Bishop Ahr and he still loves football, everything about it.”
DuPont also works equally hard at baseball, where he plays second base.
“We beat Easton in baseball last year and that was a great feeling,” said DuPont, who said that baseball compliments his football skills because of the need for soft hands. “But beating Easton in football when I was a sophomore, that was awesome. That was the greatest moment of my life.”
To live in that moment one more time this Thanksgiving, DuPont knows that that dedication to all-out effort he learned from players like Shelton can’t slack off in the slightest.
“I have to give 100 percent on every play when I am not running a route, blocking the cornerbacks,” he said. “And there were a couple of routes I made a mistake on that I have to correct. I get to run patterns against our starting cornerbacks (Ja’Quan Jones and Stephen Davis) and that makes me better because they are the best in the league.”
Brad Wilson may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradwsports. Find Lehigh Valley high school sports on Facebook.