Phillipsburg home quad scrimmage with Warren Hills, St. John Vianney and Union
Pow, thud, bang. It may only have been a scrimmage but bodies were flying. It may have been just what Phillipsburg needed. “This was a physical scrimmage,” Stateliner head coach Frank Duffy said. “We don’t do a lot of live stuff in our practices because we’re trying to keep people healthy, but I am happy with the way we answered the physical challenge today. Overall, I thought we tackled well, and I was definitely pleased with the way we hit. I was looking to see that.” Duffy praised senior linebacker/fullback Frank Stettner (a transfer from Bethlehem Catholic) and senior linemen and co-captains Nick Josselyn and Zach Leong for physical play as well.
Boothmans bring it. Among the Stateliners who delivered physically, which was most, the senior Boothman triplets led the way. Jalen Boothman seemed to be in several spots at once from his defensive line spot and looked like a rock against the run. Jevon Boothman (linebacker) and Jaleel Boothman (defensive line) also made fans take notice with aggressive play and strong finishes. This trio could become huge fan favorites at Maloney this fall.
In-scrimmage improvement. Duffy was initially displeased with the Stateliners’ pass rush. He let the defense know he was expecting more … and got it. “At the end we started getting to the quarterback,” he said.
Nerves on offense. Junior quarterback Jack Stagaard, in his first action in 11 months since he was injured against Hunterdon Central in September 2016, looked strong in the pocket but his delivery was sometimes less than pinpoint. “I think Jack had some butterflies,” Duffy said. “I think we need some work on the chemistry in the passing game. We definitely have the capability.” The Stateliners’ short passing game clicked well, especially screens to junior wideout Ray Stem and senior Sean Morro. Morro, in fact, might have been the best player on the field at his linebacker and tight end spots.
Rolling on running. Phillipsburg deployed two newcomers at running back and both showed they can deliver. Junior “Mean” Joe Green used a low center of gravity and a sense of balance to score a touchdown against Warren Hills. Sophomore Abdul Salahuddin, who had the majority of the reps, gets upfield quickly and is hard to get a square hit on. He could improve his yardage total with, as Duffy noted, a little less footwork at the point of attack and more going forward, but Salahuddin appears to have all the tools.
Brad Wilson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @bradwsports. Find Lehigh Valley high school sports on Facebook.