Post 29 – HS Football – Preview: Phillipsburg

August 8, 2018

2017 In Review:  The Stateliners were 10-2, losing to North Hunterdon in the North Jersey Section 2 Group 4 finals after beating Irvington and Millburn.  They scored 368 points for a 30.67 average, while allowing 152 for a 12.67 average.  Wins included North Hunterdon, Bridgewater-Raritan, Immaculata, and Hillsborough, while their other loss was to Easton (Pa.).

Graduation Losses:  TE/LB Sean Morro – East Stroudsburg, OL/DL Anthony Capitini – East Stroudsburg, OLB Jevon Boothman – Lackawanna JC (Pa.), DE Jalen Boothman – Lackawanna JC (Pa.), DE Jaleel Boothman – Lackawanna JC (Pa.), DB Stephen Davis – FDU (Florham Park), DB Justyce Branch – Delaware Valley, OL Elian Telford – Salve Regina (RI), K/P Billy Oertel – William Paterson

Offense:  Phillipsburg runs a multiple I and returns six starters.  Returning for his third year as the starting quarterback is senior Jack Staagard (6-1, 185).  Also returning at tailback is senior Joe Green (5-9, 190) and he will be supported by sophomore Matt Quetel (5-9, 180).  The fullback will be junior Bobby Coury (5-9, 180) and he will be backed up by junior Isaiah Craighead (5-10, 185).

The receivers have plenty of experience with all three returning.  At wide receiver, it is junior Ray Poremba (6-3, 200) and senior Nasir Ball (5-9, 165), while both senior Ray Stem (6-0, 185) and junior Tommy Coury (5-9, 180) also have varsity experience.  Returning at tight end is senior returning starter Sterling Walker-Sutton (6-0, 190) and junior Robert Martin (5-11, 185) will play when two TE’s are used.

The lone returning starter on the line is senior three-year starter Jeff Vitale (6-0, 215) at right tackle and he is moving from fullback.  The right guard is senior Matt Cherry (5-10, 220) and he would have at least played some last year, but tore his ACL in the pre-season.  He will be in competition at either guard with seniors Ryan Fisher (6-0, 215) and Tony Rivera (5-11, 200).  The center is senior Chris Gurneak (5-8, 205), who started on defense, and left tackle is between seniors Luke Evers (6-3, 210) and Kyle Sofhauser (6-2, 210).  Also in the mix somewhere will be junior Devin Reppert (5-8, 175).

Defense:  The Stateliners play a 4-4 and return four starters.  The front four will be brand new, with Cherry and Vitale as the ends, with seniors Kyree Wallace (5-10, 205) and Joe Kowalchuk (5-10, 195) in reserve.  The tackles will have a rotation of Rivera, Fisher, and Gurneak.

Both inside linebackers are back in senior Mark Zgoda (5-11, 205) and Bobby Coury, with Quetel in reserve.  On the outside, it will be Craighead and Martin with junior Robert Sutton (5-7, 170) rotating in.

Returning at cornerback are Ball and Walker-Sutton, with Tommy Coury at free safety.  Also getting reps in the secondary will be senior Chase Rivera (5-9, 165).

Special Teams:  The kicker and punter will be junior Michael Gomez and the return men will be Ball, Walker-Sutton, and Quetel.


Friday, 8/31, Warren Hills at home, 7 PM
Friday, 9/7, Franklin at home, 7 PM
Friday, 9/14, at Hunterdon Central, 7 PM
Friday, 9/21, Union at home, 7 PM
Friday, 9/28, at Bridgewater-Raritan, 1 PM
Friday, 10/5, at Hillsborough, 7 PM
Friday, 10/12, Westfield at home, 7 PM
Friday, 10/19, at Ridge, 7 PM
10/26-27, Bye Week
Thursday, 11/22, Easton (Pa.) at Lafayette, 10:30 AM

Recruits:  The biggest recruit is Staagard and he can go D2 and perhaps 1-AA.  The rest of the players are D3 candidates.

Concerns:  Inexperience up front, just like last year.  The coaches feel good about the replacements, but there is a lack of varsity experience.

Coach’s Comments:  “We feel confident.  We are strong at the offensive skill positions and in the secondary.  Up front is where we have to replace a lot of people.  Many of them have sub-varsity experience, but varsity is another level.  It’s the same situation as last year, but we’re confident it will work out.” – Head Coach Frank Duffy

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