New-look Phillipsburg football off to fast start after romping Warren Hills
Expectations are always high surrounding the Phillipsburg High School football team.
But a mercy-rule win to open the season just might have exceeded even the young Stateliners’ lofty goals.
Phillipsburg scored early and often to overwhelm an even younger Warren Hills team, 54-0, in a Mid-State 38 Conference cross-divisional game at Warren Hills Regional School District Stadium.
Senior quarterback Ben Ries ran for a pair of touchdowns and threw two more in his first varsity start.
“It felt great to show what we can do tonight,” said Ries, who played behind three-year starter Jack Stagaard the last few seasons. “We’re extremely confident going into Week 2 now seeing the way we ran the ball. Matt Quetel showed what he could do and our line played great.”
Quetel, making his first varsity start as well, carried the load early with support from running mates Isaiah Craighead and Bobby Coury, before coach Frank Duffy went to the bench in the third quarter with the game well in hand.
“It was good to come out and get the run game going and Matty Quetel was everything we thought he could be,” Duffy said.
The ‘Liners defense set the stage early, when Coury, a senior linebacker, intercepted Blue Streaks quarterback Kevin Farrell at the Warren Hills 15.
Two plays later, Coury made it 7-0 P’burg, cashing in from 2 yards out. The two-way senior standout added a fumble recovery later in the half.
Craighead set up the next P’burg touchdown with a 40-yard dash to the Streaks 5, following a Warren Hills punt that gave the ‘Liners possession on the 45.
Ries capped the drive with a 2-yard keeper. Michael Gomez’s PAT made it 14-0 with 5:19 left in the opening quarter.
“Our defense set the tone for our offense tonight,” said Ries, who completed 5 of 9 passes for 62 yards, including TD passes of 26 and 19 yards to Ray Poremba and Mike Wambold, respectively.
The P’burg defense held Warren Hills to just 24 yards of total offense and didn’t allow the Streaks past their own 39-yard line.
And the young Streaks were clearly overmatched on defense.
“Phillipsburg is a good football team, but we have to get better,” Warren Hills coach George DiGrande said. “We knew (Phillipsburg) was on the schedule for a long time. We just have to get better. We have higher expectations than we showed tonight on the field.”
Quetel finished with 84 yards on 14 carries. Craighead rushed four times for 65 yards.
Quetel is far from satisfied.
“I think we played pretty well, but not great,” Quetel said. “There is a lot that we need to work on. There’s a lot I need to work on. I feel like I can get way better. I know I’m not even near my full potential. We need to get better every, single day.”
Rai’Quan Dixon added 39 yards and touchdown for P’burg off the bench. Backups Matt Kowalczyk and Chaz Sutton also scored touchdowns.
Phillipsburg (1-0) 21 12 14 7 -- 54
Warren Hills (0-1) 0 0 0 0 -- 0
P -- Bobby Coury 2 run (Michael Gomez kick), 9:41.
P -- Ben Ries run (Gomez kick), 5:19.
P -- Matt Quetel 3 run (Gomez kick), 0:33.
P -- Ray Poremba 26 pass from Ries (kick blocked), 5:52.
P -- Mike Wambold 14 pass from Ries (run failed), 1:07.
P -- Ries 1 run (Gomez kick), 9:10.
P -- Chaz Sutton 17 run (Gomez kick), 3:50
P - Matt Kowalczyk 5 run (Gomez kick), 11:43.