Phillipsburg 21, Ridge 7 -- Mid-State 38 Delaware Division football
What’s veni, vidi, vici in Statelinerese?
On Friday, there was no doubt what it meant. Phillipsburg stands over the Delaware Division as Caesar, author of the famous phrase, did over Gaul -- division champs for the second straight season.
Phillipsburg (7-1, 5-0 division) came (“veni”) to Ridge (6-1, 4-1) to face the Red Devils’ fearsome Wing-T offense.
The Stateliners saw (“vidi”) the Wing-T, allowing the Red Devils to score rather easily on the game’s opening drive.
And then Phillipsburg conquered (“vici”) the Wing-T, tossing a shutout the rest of the way. Ridge had 64 yards on its first drive and just 181 the rest of the game. Even more tellingly, Ridge posted 38 rushing yards on their scoring march -- and had just 21 the remainder of the night.
Toss in two first-half Bobby Coury TD runs on perfectly-executed trap plays of 27 and 29 yards, a TD pass from Jack Stagaard to Sterling Walker-Sutton, and a perfect night of no mistakes (no Phillipsburg turnovers or penalties), and it represented a championship effort all around at Lee Field.
“I am so proud of our kids’ effort tonight,” Phillipsburg head coach Frank Duffy said.
Turning point: With two minutes to go in the second quarter and Phillipsburg ahead 14-7, Ridge faced a 4th-and-3 at the Stateliner 13. Hudkins faked run and dropped back to throw, but Stateliner junior linebacker Isaiah Craighead read the play perfectly and, running with what Phillipsburg head coach Frank Duffy called “fanatical speed” blew up the play, flushed Hudkins from the pocket and allowed junior linebacker Robert Martin to sack Hudkins and end the threat. “I felt goosebumps,” said Craighead, a player who shows a lot of emotion on the field. Ridge never really threatened to take control of the game away from Phillipsburg after that.
Top performer: Bobby Coury’s two-way play highlighted the championship effort. He wound up as Phillipsburg’s leading rusher with 84 yards and the two touchdowns. On defense, he and senior Mark Zgoda wrote a textbook on how middle linebackers in a 4-4 should defend the Wing-T. “The line got a great push and helped Mark and I play our game, fly to the ball and make the hits,” Coury said.
What it means: Stateliners win a trophy, never a bad thing. There are two trophies to play for they may want a lot more, but they will happily take a division championship. A win Friday’s, played at playoff-level intensity in a postseason atmosphere, is just what Phillipsburg needed headed into a bye week and then the North Group 4 playoffs. “We accomplished goal number three tonight,” said senior quarterback and tri-captain Stagaard. “The big thing about tonight is that we wanted three home playoff games at Maloney Stadium.” The Stateliners should get just that.
Brad Wilson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @bradwsports. Find Lehigh Valley high school sports on Facebook.