Meet Will Haussman, public relations man.
Actually, that’s a task Haussman sees for all his football teammates on Phillipsburg’s offensive line.
“We don’t get our names in the newspaper,” said Haussman, making an exception for the present situation, of course. “We pride ourselves in getting other people’s names in the newspaper.”
What the Stateliner senior means is that if he and his linemates do their jobs right, the Stateliners’ running backs, quarterbacks, and wide receivers will be the ones glittering in the spotlight while the linemen toil in rugged anonymity.
That’s often the way it is in football -- but if Phillipsburg puts up more games like last week’s season-opening 54-0 wipeout of Warren Hills, those Stateliner studs up front are going to start getting noticed.
Part of the reason why is their high standards.
“I don’t think we had a perfect play against Warren Hills,” said Haussman, who plays left guard for P’burg.
That’s a scary thought for future Stateliner foes, such as Franklin (0-1) , which is where Phillipsburg will open Mid-State 38 Delaware Division play Friday (7 p.m.). The visitors start their pursuit of their third straight division title, owning an 11-game divisional win streak with the last loss in 2016. P’burg has not lost to Franklin since 2012.
Offensive line play was an area of concern entering the season as Phillipsburg only had one lineman back with starting experience.
But such worries get doused quickly when the Stateliners ran for 270 yards (6.6 yards per carry) and 6.touchdowns in the opener. P’burg averaged 6.6 yards per offensive play as well.,
“We got the job done, we won,” Haussman said. “All of the drills we did really paid off. I was really excited after the game; it was a great feeling. It was fun and exciting to get a win in our first game as a unit. But we made a lot of mistakes. We could have been a lot better.”
Of course, Phillipsburg hardly needed to be.
“I don’t think we had a drive longer than 50 yards,” Haussman said. “We had great field position. The team showed all our hard work over the summer paid off. Personally, it was really satisfying. But we still could have been even better.”
While that’s probably so, still, not a bad debut for a line with tons of new faces -- but faces ready to make an impact.
“Will is one of these seniors who has waited his turn to play,” said Phillipsburg head coach Frank Duffy of the 6-foot, 240-pound Lopatcong resident. “He’s an athletic kid.”
Haussman is familiar with Stateliner offensive coordinator Ian Decker, who is the head coach on the lacrosse field for Haussman in the spring, where Haussman plays defense. In football, Haussman, for now, stays on the offensive side of the field where he can help in multiple spots, a useful contingency should injuries strike.
“I have been a lineman all my life,” he said. “I had to play tackle in on junior varsity and I played center my sophomore year; I liked playing center.”
Haussman has honed his skills well with his unit. He says the line understands its schemes and what is expected of a Stateliner lineman.
“We understand our scheme and we know what has to be done, which is being really physical at the line of scrimmage,” Haussman said.
Haussman knew as a starter he’d need to lift his game from the junior varsity level; He credited Phillipsburg strength coach Craig Merrick for the physical boost.
“Craig Merrick is a great trainer and a great person, and he made me bigger and stronger and more able to compete at the varsity level,” Haussman said.
One area Haussman said the Stateliners can improve on is when they turn to the air.
“I just think we need to get more comfortable in the pass plays,” he said. “For me, it’s different feet position and being more physical in pass blocking. It’s definitely different than run blocking. We have to get more used to the different style of play in the passing game.”
This week might be a good week to continue to settle in a bit as Franklin dropped its opener 40-7 to its archrival Piscataway in what used to be a Thanksgiving Day game. But Haussman doesn’t expect an easy affair.
“Their defensive line is better than Warren Hills,” he said. “We just have to go out and run the plays we have been running since June and have been practicing all this time. Franklin will be a step up from Warren Hills. We just have to do the same thing -- do our jobs.”
And then maybe everybody’s name will get in the newspaper.
Brad Wilson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @bradwsports. Find Lehigh Valley high school sports on Facebook.