FAST STARTING PHILLIPSBURG FOOTBALL ROLLS OVER WESTFIELD
Phillipsburg 42, Westfield 14 -- Mid-State 38 crossover football
From the very first seconds of the game, the Stateliners made sure 2018’s Senior Night would be a festive one.
Senior Sterling Walker-Sutton took the opening kickoff back 88 yards for a touchdown to energize the large Maloney Stadium crowd and give Phillipsburg (6-1), ranked No. 6 by lehighvalleylive in the region, a lead it never lost.
“I got two pancake blocks from Matt Quetel and Isaiah Craighead and slid right behind them up the crease,” Walker-Sutton said.
The emotional fire was almost as good as the touchdown and it propelled the hosts to a 21-0 lead after the first quarter.
“Sterling was awesome,” senior quarterback Jack Stagaard said.
Awesome would also describe Stagaard, who completed 10 of 13 passes for 267 yards, including strikes of 14 and 70 yards to Walker-Sutton and an all-time highlight-roll heave of 44 yards to Bobby Coury.
“My best game ever,” said Walker-Sutton, who had 121 receiving yards and was superb on pass defense at cornerback too.
And what a night to pick to have it, too.
If there was a downside for Phillipsburg, it came from nine penalties, including four third-quarter 15-yard flags that almost allowed Westfield (2-4) to get back in the game, and from senior tailback Joe Green having just 67 yards (but two touchdowns) on 17 carries.
“We have some things to clean up on our interior running game and we have to learn to control our emotions,” Phillipsburg head coach Frank Duffy said. “But I thought our defense played outstanding, especially against the run (46 yards allowed on 31 carries) and our offensive coaching staff did a great job of getting our playmakers in position to make plays.”
Turning point: With Phillipsburg ahead 13-0 in the first quarter, a Westfield drive reached its own 40, and with a score the Blue Devils would have been back in the game. But on 2nd and 1 and then 3rd and 1, the Stateliner defense stacked up Westfield for no gain and forced a punt, led by senior middle linebacker Mark Zgodaand junior middle linebacker Bobby Coury. The Stateliners scored on their next possession for a 21-0 edge and never really relinquished control of the game. “That was a really big defensive stand,” Duffy said.
Top performer: Walker-Sutton was all over the place -- that kickoff return, two TD catches, solid pass defense from his cornerback spot. He put his name on his Senior Night, where he was, appropriately as it turned out, the first introduced.
What it means: Phillipsburg will take a three-game winning streak into next Friday’s Delaware Division championship showdown at unbeaten Ridge (6-0). In that game, the Stateliners will need to cut back on the blizzard of penalty flags suffered against Westfield, to be sure, and to run the ball better, but the Senior Night win will carry a lot of positives over, especially rushing defense, the play of the two middle linebackers and Stagaard and the passing game.
Brad Wilson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @bradwsports. Find Lehigh Valley high school sports on Facebook.