8 SPOTLIGHTS ON PHILLIPSBURG FOOTBALL'S WIN OVER FRANKLIN
The spotlight found a whole lot of Phillipsburg football players and units Friday night.
The Stateliners’ 49-0 thrashing of visiting Franklin in a Mid-State 38 Delaware Division game at Maloney Stadium shone a bright light on some new standouts and some old standbys.
Here’s a look at eight Phillipsburg types who delighted under the lights.
1. Coury classic
On Phillipsburg’s second play from scrimmage Bobby Coury scored his first varsity touchdown -- in spectacular fashion.
The junior h-back took a handoff from senior quarterback Jack Stagaard and burst 62 untouched yards. The hole he ran through was more like a cavern torn by the Stateliner line through the Warrior defense.
“They blocked it perfectly,” Coury said.
For Coury it made for a magical moment.
“I have been playing football for Lopatcong and Phillipsburg since I was five,” he said. “I have dreamed of scoring a touchdown for Phillipsburg since I was a little boy.”
Make that one dream come true.
2. "I'm a veteran now"
Coury was not the only Stateliner to post his first varsity score Friday.
Indeed three other Phillipsburg players -- junior h-back Isaiah Craighead, sophomore tailback Matt Quetel, and senior tight end Joseph Kowalczyk -- found the end zone for the first time.
In Craighead’s case, he was almost as much by himself on his first-quarter 25-yard touchdown catch as Coury was on his TD run.
“I was just listening to my coaches,” Craighead said. “We knew they’d use a cover-2 (pass defense) and if they did I just had to run straight and split the safeties, and I’d be wide open.”
And he was. Stagaard put the ball in perfectly.
“I was just doing my job,” Craighead said. “Good things happen when you do your job.”
Good enough to put a glowing smile on Craighead’s face.
“My first varsity touchdown in my second varsity game,” Craighead said. “I am a veteran now.”
3. H-back heaven
Phillipsburg is historically known for its tailbacks but on Friday it was the h-backs -- Coury and Craighead -- who stole the spotlight.
You might ask -- what is an h-back?
The position is, kind of, a combination of tight end and fullback. Being fast and physical helps.
“Coach (Ian ) Decker leads us to know what we have to do,” Craighead said. “We run, we receive, we block -- and me and Coury are the dogs to do it.”
On Friday, the Stateliner h-backs barked loudly.
4. Soph scores
Phillipsburg fans will get to know the name Matt Quetel.
The sophomore tailback scored his first varsity TD just before halftime on a 3-yard burst. He had six carries for 24 yards and showed the kind of moxie the best ball carriers do.
He’ll get more moments in the spotlight.
5. Magnificent seven
Phillipsburg’s defensive front seven could hardly have been better.
Franklin had just 26 yards of offense and one first down in the first half, and no Warrior ball carrier had a moment of peace, or had anywhere to go. Senior linebacker Mark Zgoda had the only sack, but there could have been more. At times it seemed as if the Stateliners started in Franklin’s backfield.
6. Special successes
Phillipsburg’s special teams certainly deserved the spotlight.
Senior kicker Michael Gomez went 7-for-7 on extra points and his one punt traveled 51 yards. The Stateliners smothered a potentially dangerous Warrior kickoff return game with some secure tackling. Senior Nasir Ball, who has some real jets on the feet, scored on a 90-yard kickoff return.
The only missing element was that Phillipsburg did not block one of the eight Franklin punts. Warrior punter Asare Bampoe-Parry was quite capable, and junior Tommy Coury came close more than once, but that didn’t satisfy Stateliner coach Frank Duffy.
“I was very disappointed we didn’t get a blocked punt,” said Duffy, whose team turned a blocked punt into a touchdown in the opener against Warren Hills. “I thought we had plenty of opportunities.”
On the whole, though, Duffy was pleased.
“I think we really stress special teams,” he said. “Coach (Rich) Guman does a really good job with our special teams.”
7. Second team strong
The Stateliners’ reserves played most of the second half and did well, moving the ball behind nimble backup quarterback Ray Stem on offense and preserving the shutout on defense.
Stem, who starts at wide receiver, presents defenses with a whole different look than Stagaard -- sprint-out speedster versus drop-back passer -- and threw a TD pass to Kowalczyk.
“They did a real nice job out there after halftime,” Duffy said.
Craighead appreciated the effort.
“We cheer them on, they cheer us on,” he said. “They really help us out as our scout team.”
8. Missed chances
For Duffy, as a coach, the spotlight shone a bit more on what didn’t go well, even in a 49-0 win.
“We had a lot of missed opportunities,” Duffy said. “We put the ball on the ground (losing a fumble at the Franklin 13-yard line) and we missed some wide-open receivers.”
Brad Wilson may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradwsports. Find Lehigh Valley high school sports on Facebook.