WEST DEPTFORD – The West Deptford High School football team had plenty of reasons to come out charged up on a rainy Friday night.
The Eagles opened the year on their home field under first-year head coach Jason Morrell. They did so under the watchful eye of retired head coach Clyde Folsom, who set the standard for the Eagles program with 10 district titles and the fourth most win in South Jersey history with 261 wins.
That said it may have been better to open the year with any program not named Paulsboro.
The Red Raiders, riding a wave of emotion of their own after several personal losses – including the untimely death of former player Davontae Randall- beat the Eagles 19-14 in both programs opening game of the season. While neither team played a particularly crisp brand of football, Paulsboro made the most of its opportunities to get the win.
“We have a good group of kids,” Paulsboro head coach Glenn Howard said. “They rally around one another. We have a family atmosphere at Paulsboro and it’s something that never changes. We have always found ways to overcome hurdles and this was just another one.”
The Red Raiders, in fact, needed to dig deep in the waning moments of the fourth quarter as they had to not once, but twice, stop West Deptford on downs to secure the important win. The biggest with 27 second left in the game.
“Just have to be the tougher team,” said cornerback Bhayshun Tuten, whose 55-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter gave Paulsboro a 7-0 lead only to see that lead disappear on the next play from scrimmage on an 80-yard touchdown run by Tyshawn Bookman. “We had several spots in this game where we could have hung our heads. But we don’t do that. Ever.”
After Paulsboro went for it in fourth and inches with what was either a strange option call or a broken play, West Deptford quickly got inside the Red Raiders 30-yard line. Of course as tradition dictates, the Red Raiders picked up the defensive intensity and forced a fourth down play in which the throw from Aaron Graeber sailed harmlessly out of bounds.
“I’m proud of how our defense rallied in big spots,” Howard said. “We had a couple of fourh down stops which were big. This was a night where we bended but never broke.”
For West Deptford, the bulk of the season remains in the future and Morrell, who remains 261 wins behind his predecessor, there remains plenty of work.
“We pride ourselves on our offseason work and we started to wear them down in the fourth,” Morrell said. “But that’s not going to be enough against a Glenn Howard team.
“We have to tackle better, we have to play smarter. This was definitely an emotional night for us and we definitely learned from it.”
West Deptford 0-7- 7-0--14
P-Bhayshul Tuten 55 interception return (Ricky Wolf kick)
WD-Tyshawn Bookman 80 run (Brandon Ratcliffe kick)
P-Tyhere Dowd 1 run (kick failed)
WD-Tasir Money blocked punt recovery in end zone (Ratcliffe kick)
P-Nick Pellegrini 4 run (run failed)