Just call him Chaz.
On the Phillipsburg football roster, there’s a senior outside linebacker and running back listed as Robert Sutton.
“Chaz is actually my middle name,” Sutton said. “I’ve always been called that.”
After getting a chance to watch Sutton play, Stateliner fans may call him a real favorite.
“Given a choice between running around a tackler and running him over I will run him over every time,” Sutton said. “I love the ground and pound.”
P’burg fans will love to hear that as they head into Friday’s opener at Warren Hills (7 p.m.). Sutton isn’t necessarily huge, at 5-foot-8 and 160 pounds, but, in the vernacular, he brings it.
“Chaz is a straight-ahead runner, a tough runner,” said Stateliner head coach Frank Duffy, who said Sutton will see “quality time” at running back.
Sutton offers the Phillipsburg offense a different kind of back than junior Matt Quetel, who is expected to get the majority of the carries. Duffy said that Sutton’s physicality and penchant to pound will make a useful change of pace from the more fleet and fast Quetel.
Of course they do have some similarities.
“We both hit the holes hard, have good vision and good speed,” Sutton said.
It’s not hard to see how Sutton could quickly become a fan favorite.
“I love contact in football,” said the Stewartsville resident. “I love rallying guys up and making plays, making tackles.”
Speaking of tackles, Sutton will start at outside linebacker in P’burg’s 4-4 set. With Isaiah Craighead on the other side and the Coury twins, Bobby and Tommy, playing in the middle, the Stateliners could have one of the best linebacking corps in the region. Physical, aggressive, savvy and intense, the P’burg quartet will poise a major challenge for offenses.
Sutton’s role is to set a hard edge and while keeping an eye on potential receivers.
“I have to cover the flat and make sure no one gets outside of me,” Sutton said. “I have to use my speed, be fast and be physical. The way the coaches prepare us for games and give us a game plan, the game really slows down for us.”
Sutton and company don’t slow down at all, of course, as they fly to the ball as linebackers do. But he said there’s still work to do.
“We have to be more secure making tackles,” Sutton said. “We have to do a better job of wrapping up ball carriers.”
Like many Stateliner seniors this fall, Sutton has had to wait for his turn more than once to get on the field.
“Sophomore year was hard because I didn’t get much time on the field,” he said. “I just had to make the best of it. It was tough waiting but now it’s time to live in the present. You have to always stay committed and live up to that Phillipsburg pride.”Sutton can’t wait to show his P’burg pride on the varsity stage Friday in front of what is likely to be a very packed house at Warren Hills.
“I have been playing football my whole life and nothing’s going to change in the way I play,” he said. “I’m going to play my brand of football, Phillipsburg will play its brand of football, and we’ll just ignore the noise around us.”
Brad Wilson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @bradwsports. Find Lehigh Valley high school sports on Facebook.