Sometimes a football team grows up on the field.
That’s a large part of what happened Friday night at Basilone Field in Bridgewater as a Phillipsburg team with a lot of juniors and even sophomores in key spots came into its own with a 30-7 rout of hosts Bridgewater-Raritan in a Mid-State 37 Delaware Division showdown that attracted a crowd worthy of the game’s stature.
Some Stateliner youngsters, such as sophomore linebackers Bobby Coury and Isaiah Craighead, visibly matured during the 48 minutes of football Friday night.
But sometimes a team can grow up off the field, and Phillipsburg did that too Friday.
The Stateliners (3-0 overall and division) reacted pretty ordinarily afterwards to what was a really extraordinary win.
Consider that the hosts (2-1, 2-1) had won 24 consecutive regular-season games. Bridgewater was the two-time North 2 Group 5 runner-ups. The Panthers returned their entire front eight on defense and several skill-position standouts on offense. And Phillipsburg endured an endless bus ride of over an hour to reach Bridgewater’s field, a stone’s throw from Route 287.
To win at all, much less dominate as they did, certainly gave the Stateliners the right to call ita a “statement win”, as junior running back Joe Green did.
And while Phillipsburg surely celebrated during the game – some of senior defensive lineman Jalen Boothman’s teammates delivered harder blows to him as they jumped around him after his sack for a safety than anything the Panthers delivered – afterwards they radiated calmness.
“What does this mean to us? – it’s just another win,” junior quarterback Jack Stagaard said.
It’s a shame the Stateliners can’t revel in their accomplishment for too long, or evenlong at all – not with Hillsborough visiting Maloney Stadium Thursday in a game moved to accommodate Yom Kippur services.
“I want the kids to enjoy this,” Phillipsburg head coach Frank Duffy said. “They work too hard not to. They can enjoy it until Sunday when we’ll practice, get ready for Hillsborough and go from there.”
“It’s a great win for us,” he said. “But it just means we’re 2-0 and 1-0 this week. Now we have to come back and be 1-0 next week.”
Brad Wilson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @bradwsports. Find Lehigh Valley high school sports on Facebook.