As the Phillipsburg High School football team coasted to a 42-7 win over Franklin on Friday night, running back Matt Quetel had one thing motivating him on every carry.
The Stateliners’ rival, Easton.
“Where my head is at right now, I’m focused on Easton every single day. My mindset is, ‘Is this going to beat Easton, yes or no?’ It’s my mentality, I guess,” Quetel said. “Throughout practice we know we need to get better every day and push (ourselves) to our limits. We need to take every snap like it’s the Super Bowl.”
Quetel displayed that mindset on the field against the Warriors, working hard for extra yards on every carry and refusing to be taken down by just one tackler. That tenacity led the junior to finish with 117 yards on 14 carries and three rushing touchdowns.
The humble tailback was quick to give thanks to his offensive line after a big performance.
“It’s amazing, they do a great job," he said. "I appreciate them for that. They’re the reason why I‘m able to score touchdowns.”
The Stateliners made their game plan evident on the first drive, take advantage of their strength in the trenches by pounding the ball. Phillipsburg ran the ball on its first seven plays before quarterback Ben Ries hit tight end Tommy Coury on a play-action touchdown pass from 7 yards out.
The senior put in a proficient performance in his second start at quarterback, throwing for three touchdown passes and 99 yards on seven completions.
“We knew Franklin was going to be fast, we knew they were going to be physical but our whole goal was to be more fast and physical than they were,” Ries said. “We kept running the ball hard and then we hit them with play action. It makes it hard if they want to drop back, because then we can run it with (Quetel). If they want to come up and blitz, we can burn them on play action deep.”
Phillipsburg ended its second drive exactly how it ended its first, with Ries dropping back in play action and finding Coury in the end zone. It was Ries’ third and final touchdown throw, however, that ultimately put the game away.
After Franklin quarterback Kevon Gordon threw a screen pass to senior receiver Donnele McQuilla that went for a 61-yard score, the Stateliners took over leading 28-7 about two minutes before halftime.
Ries led Phillipsburg with a no-huddle offense, hitting Coury and Ray Poremba on passes of 8 and 24 yards. At the Franklin 31, Ries drew in a Warriors’ blitz on a screen pass and hit Quetel, who sprinted the rest of the way to extend Phillipsburg’s lead right before intermission.
“Ben’s a great quarterback, the throws he had today were beautiful and it helped us a lot,” Quetel said. “I think he’ll be big for us this year.”
While the Stateliners can take pride in their 2-0 start, their first major test is now less than a week away. Next week, Phillipsburg has its own home opener against Hunterdon Central.
“Next week, we have Hunterdon Central and we’ll prepare very hard for them, but we got a taste of what we can do,” Ries said. “We haven’t put together a full game yet, so it’s very exciting knowing we can still do better … We just need to execute better on offense, I missed a lot of throws that I wish I could have back.”
Desmond Boyle may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @DesJBoyle. Find Lehigh Valley high school sports on Facebook.