This is the time of year when everyone is trying to catch magic in a bottle, to go from the team no one is talking about to the one everyone is chasing. Last season that team was Plainville. The Cardinals went from 3-6 in 2012 to 10-2 and a 2-1A sub-state runner up finish in 2011.
In 2012, the Phillipsburg Panthers were hoping to be that team. Though they were coming off a very good 7-3 season in 2011, not many people were talking about them.
On Friday the Panthers opened play in their brand new stadium. And the first stop down the road of what they hope could be a magical season, was the aforementioned Cardinals.
Phillipsburg made a statement early, when Hunter Kohler took the pitch and went eight yards for the first touchdown of the game. It would be 14-0 after one quarter, thanks to the first of three electrifying touchdown passes by Sean Newland. This one to Tad Thompson covered 88 yards and had Thompson breaking free of two holds by the Cardinal defense.
Plainville would get on the board early in quarter number two when Hadley Gillum went three yards on the quarterback keeper.
But just in case you though that meant this was going to be a game, the Panthers put away all doubt. On the first play after the kick off, Newland hit Seth Derr for the 45 yard touchdown strike. And then Grant Wickham scampered 10 yards for the score to make it 28-6.
Phillipsburg wasn't done. Kohler picked Gillum and returned it 18 yards for another touchdown, and the route was on.
Plainville did manage to get one of those scores back before the half on a four yard TD plunge by Trever Axelson, to make it 35-12 at the break.
The Panthers kept rolling in half number two. Newlan added another long touchdown pass, and a touchdown on the ground in the second half to stretch the final to what was a 48-18 Phillipsburg victory.
"That's not a pretty good team, that's a real good team," said Panthers head coach J.B. Covington. "They have some big physical kids, kids that work hard and they are very well coached. I thought we came out an executed offensively extremely well. I don't think we could have executed much better than we did."
Newlan said, it was the perfect way to open the new stadium.
"Our entire team and all our fans we were all excited. The atmosphere here in the new stadium was awesome. Coming out here opening it up, we weren't sure what it was going to be like. Then we got here and we just new everything was going to click."
The Panthers (1-0) will have to have to leave the new stadium behind next week when they travel to Decatur Community. Plainville (0-1) will be at home to face Ellis.