League: Big Central Football Conference-Division 4
Coach: Frank Duffy (fifth season, 33-13)
Last year: 8-3; Mid-State 38-Delaware Division champion; lost to Wayne Valley in North 2, Group 4 semifinals.
Key players: Matt Quetel, Sr., RB/OLB; Matt Barna, Sr., OC/DT; Matt Garatty, Sr., QB; Jacob Hille, Sr., FB/LB; Jalil Terrell, Sr., WR/CB; Michael Wambold, Sr., RB/DB; Jordan Kiley, Sr., OL; Mulik Warren, Sr., DL; Stephen Gural, Jr., LB; Tim McPherson, Jr., TE/DE; Declan Marron, Sr., WR/OLB.
Outlook: Phillipsburg has just four starters returning on offense from an 8-3 squad, though one of them is standout senior running back Matt Quetel (1,302 rushing yards, 17 touchdowns), and that just makes it seem like a little more. Two of the other starters also happen to be seasoned linemen who will be helping the hard-charging Quetel (5-10, 185) carve out running room - senior center Matt Barna (6-3, 260) and senior guard Jordan Kiley - and that brings even further insignificance to the relatively low number. A small group of returnees or not, there is still proven talent on this P’Burg offense, and no doubt a strong collection of eager part-time contributors from 2019 or even flat-out newcomers who will be prepared to fill those vacated positions by the time the Stateliners conduct the opening kickoff Oct. 2 against Hunterdon Central. How could we know that? Well, because replenishing numbers and upholding legacy is routine practice here, and probably not even a global pandemic could change that tradition. The Stateliners have won 28 games in the last three seasons, have at least 10 victories in four of the last seven, and have 703 victories in their illustrious history, for crying out loud. And did we mention the return of Quetel? The other offensive starter back is senior wide receiver Michael Wambold, who will be running routes for senior QB Matt Garatty (5-9, 170), who played only sparingly last season behind senor Ben Ries. Senior Jalil Terrell, a veteran cornerback, also will play wideout along with promising senior Declan Marron. Senior Jacob Hille (6-1,216) is poised to occupy the fullback position that was filled so admirably the last couple years by 2020 graduate Bobby Coury, one of many outstanding seniors from that ’19 team. Another was Coury’s twin brother, Tommy, a wideout and free safety. All told, seven starters return for P’Burg, since Barna (OL and DL) and Wambold (WR and DB) were two-way guys. The other three returning defensive regulars are Terrell at DB, senior Mulik Warren at DL, and junior Stephan Gural at linebacker. Hille and Marron will team with Gural at linebacker, and junior Tim Pherson will play DE and tight end. This might be a good time to remind any worried Phillipsburg folks that seven returning starters is just two lower than what came back at the start of the 2019 season. And those Stateliners developed well enough to reach the North 2, Group 4 semifinals (losing only, 7-0, to Wayne Valley), and very nearly snapped a five-game losing streak to ancient rival Easton (Pa.) on Thanksgiving, falling, 16-13. Phillipsburg’s only other loss came against Westfield in overtime, 20-14. Tommy Coury suffered a leg injury in that game and would miss the last three of the season.
Oct. 2: at Hunterdon Central, 7
Oct. 9: at Montgomery, 7
Oct. 16: Hillsborough, 7
Oct. 23: at Watchung Hills, 7
Oct. 30: vs. North Hunterdon, 7
Nov. 6: Bridgewater-Raritan, 7
Nov. 26: Easton (Pa.) at Lafayette College, 10:30
Mike Kinney may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.