Nick Josselyn said it was “torture”.
The Phillipsburg junior guard/nose guard was not referring to his injury that kept him out of the Stateliners’ last game, a 42-14 defeat of Watchung Hills on Oct. 7.
What Josselyn was referring to was missing the game.
“It was the worst feeling of my life,” he said.
Some would say the injury itself would have been torture – a broken knuckle on the ring finger of his left hand sustained during practice. That’s the kind of injury that just sounds really, really painful.
“I didn’t think it was broken,” said Josselyn after a Tuesday practice to prepare for Friday’s Mid-State 38 cross-over game with Montgomery (3-3) at Maloney Stadium (7 p.m.). “Initially I was told I’d put for four to six weeks. But the injury came with surprisingly good timing.”
That refers to the bye week Phillipsburg (3-2) enjoyed after pounding Watchung Hills. Using that week, Josselyn was able to be available to play against Montgomery. The finger is not in a cast, just wrapped, and the 6-foot, 215-pounder is “absolutely” ready to go.
That’s good news for Stateliner fans because Josselyn fills a key role on both sides of the ball. It’s on defense, perhaps, that he has the most intriguing role.
“At nose guard I get double-teamed a lot,” said the Stewartsville resident. “I have to handle the pressure to create lanes for our linebackers to make plays through, and when I am doubled (senior tackle) Robert Melise can be 1-on-1 and he’ll make tackle after tackle. (Assistant) coach (Ed) Puccio tells us that we have to be relentless every time out there, and be aggressive. We have to have an offensive mentality on defense.”
Speaking of offense, Josselyn has been a lineman for all his career at the higher levels of football, and has never scored a touchdown. He was near one in the opener at Franklin after a Zach Troxell sack caused a loose ball in the end zone.
“Robert took it away for me,” said Josselyn with a smile of the fumble recovery for six that Melise made. “Robert is a beast. He gets everyone going.”
Phillipsburg head coach Frank Duffy knows Josselyn doesn’t need the spotlight to shine.
“Nose guard in our defense does not get a lot of glory,” he said. “You don’t get to make a lot of plays. You’re doing your job, singling up Robert, keeping offensive linemen off our linebackers. Nick is a very unselfish player who has embraced that role 100 percent.”
Duffy said that Josselyn “really embraced our offseason strength and conditioning program and has worked himself into being a two-way starter.”
A two-way starter that does not want to miss one more minute of football – that's “torture” to Nick Josselyn.
Brad Wilson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @bradwsports. Find Lehigh Valley high school sports on Facebook.