Danny Fisher looks to be playing the best he ever has at quarterback at the perfect time for Phillipsburg.
As the Stateliners (5-2) prep for Friday’s regular-season finale against Immaculata (4-4) at Maloney Stadium (7), their senior co-captain may have enjoyed his best game as Phillipsburg’s starting quarterback in Fridays’ 24-17 defeat of North Hunterdon.
The Stateliner senior completed 10 of 18 passes for 94 yards. He overcome personal adversity -- an interception by the Lions’ Jared McMahon on P’burg’s first play from scrimmage – and team adversity – North led 17-10 with 9:45 to play in the game – to lead Phillipsburg to a key win in the fight for postseason football and seeding (it may well have clinched a home North 2 Group 4 playoff game).
Fisher called the win a “total team win”, and he’s not wrong, but Fisher’s contributions came at absolutely critical times.
No more so than with 2 minutes and 15 seconds left in the first half, when the Stateliners took over the ball at their own 26 leading 7-3 after a Nick Josselyn sack had forced the Lions to go 3-and-out.
It would have been perfectly natural for Phillipsburg to run out the clock and head to the locker room with the lead – indeed maybe very likely for the Stateliners to do so.
Instead, Fisher led a nimble, light-footed, and extremely effective 2-minute that ended with senior kicker Brendan Grube kicking a 37-yard field goal on the final play of the half.
Fisher converted one third down with his legs and one with a pass. He found three different receivers – sophomore Sterling Walker-Sutton and seniors Garrett DuPont and Kyle Santini – on the march.
If it wasn’t quite classic Phillipsburg smash-mouth football, it was a classic 2-minute drill.
“We work on the 2-minute offense just like we do on our 4-minute offense,” said the 6-foot, 180-pounder. “Every Thursday at the end of our walk-through we run the 2-minute offense and we simulate game conditions so we’re ready to do it in the game. It’s something we need to be able to do, and we practice it so we all know our roles and what’s expected of us to execute the offense.”
As Phillipsburg head coach Frank Duffy noted, the 2-minute offense requires top-shelf blocking (sacks are deadly) and receivers “with the savvy to know to get out of bounds”.
But most of all it requires a quarterback with, to steal a line, “all the right moves.” And Fisher had them Friday.
“The biggest thing I have to do is communicate so that everyone knows what they are doing and, what their roles are and to navigate everything on the offense,” Fisher said. “Every single play I made a pre-snap read and I know where the ball is going before the snap, and I know where to get the ball where the receiver will be.”
It helps, too, when the offense is confident that points will result from the 2-minute drill. On Friday, the Stateliners ran out of time to reach the end zone but with Grube around that’s no problem.
“I have all the confidence in the world in Brendan to make the field goal if we get close enough,” Fisher said. “That was huge for us to get that field goal before the half and go in to halftime with more confidence.”
“Knowing you can get those points on the board without having to get into the end zone gives us a real boost,” he said.
Phillipsburg did reach the end zone three times Friday and two of the drives were sparked by Fisher’s deep passes to Walker-Sutton, one in the second quarter for 36 yards and the second for 32 on the fourth-quarter drive that tied the game.
“With the defense North Hunterdon was running, we knew we could take shots down the field,” Fisher said. “We do that all the time with Sterling.”
Add up what Fisher did passing the ball in Friday and it seems clear he’s moving forward as a quarterback.
“Danny is a natural leader, is a good game manager, and has a very good understanding of the offense,” Duffy said. “He’s even started doing the hard count (to draw a defense offside) on his own. He’s like having a coach on the field.”
Fisher’s performance was key Friday in a back-and-forth game the Lions could easily have won.
“That was one of the best team games we have played, the way we battled back in the fourth quarter, stuck together and got the job done. We had confidence in our teammates and ourselves. There wasn’t a doubt we wouldn’t get the job done.”
Danny Fisher did his job – as well as he ever has, too.
Brad Wilson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @bradwsports. Find Lehigh Valley high school sports on Facebook.