One of the strangest plays in P'burg history occurred during the 1960 season. The following account of a play that took place at the end of P'burg's 41-13 win over Demarest described the play as "a weird finish" at Maloney Stadium: " The victory, the sixth straight this season, was marked by the final Garnet touchdown which covered 100 yards. The play involved the runback of an intercepted pass, a series of fumbles, another run and a tackle by an unidentified 9-year old girl. The play started when Les Kish intercepted a pass on the goal line. Kish picked his way to the 45-yard line where he was tackled and fumbled. The ball eluded several Garnet players before John Eck picked up the loose pigskin and set sail for the end zone. At the same time, thinking the game was over, Phillipsburg students rushed the field. Weaving his way through about 200 fans, Eck reached the 15 before being tripped by the unidentified girl. After a meeting of officials, Eck was awarded a touchdown and he then kicked the extra point." Not only was the play a memorable one, but so was the season, as P'burg finished the year unbeaten and was subsequently crowned New Jersey state champion.
P'burg's opponent in the 2004 North Jersey Section 2 Group 4 sectional championship game, Piscataway, had three players from that team drafted in the first round of the NFL draft. Chief DB Malcolm Jenkins, who went on to become an All-American CB at Ohio State and won the 2008 Jim Thorpe Award as the country's best defensive back, was selected 14th in the 1st round of the 2009 draft by the New Orleans Saints, who won the Super Bowl this past year. Jenkins started 6 games during the past year for the Saints, and made 4 tackles in that Super Bowl game. P'burg's all-state S/WR Tim Penyak beat Jenkins with a 43-yard TD reception in the sectional title game, which reportedly was the only time Jenkins was beaten for a TD in his high school career. Piscataway WR Kyle Wilson, who played collegiately at rising power Boise State, was chosen in the first round by the New York Jets in the 2010 draft. Wilson started 45 straight games for the Broncos, earning 2nd-team All-American honors. And OT Anthony Davis, a 6-5, 275-pound soph on that Chief team who starred at Rutgers, was chosen 11th overall in the 2010 draft by the San Francisco 49ers. P'burg dropped a heartbreaking 27-26 OT decision to the Chiefs at Rutgers Stadium that day, with Wilson catching the winning TD in OT. P'burg scored to come within a point, but a WR sweep on a 2-point conversion attempt was stopped a foot and a half short of the goal line.
Phillipsburg has had five former players who later played with a Heisman trophy winner at the collegiate or professional level. Former Stateliner great and NFL Hall of Fame C Jim Ringo played with Paul Hornung with the Green Bay Packers. Former P'burg and NFL standout Bill Walsh played with Johnny Lujack and Leon Hart at Notre Dame. Former Liner Glenn Gill and current P'burg coach Bob Stem played with the late, great Ernie Davis at Syracuse, and former P'burg All-American LB Ned Bolcar played with Tim Brown at Notre Dame. In addition, three of those former Stateliners...Walsh, Stem, and Bolcar...won national titles while playing in college: Walsh and Bolcar at Notre Dame and Stem at Syracuse. Finally, three former Liners played in the Rose Bowl: All-American Ted Dailey and former P'burg AD Walt Miller at Pittsburgh, and former Stateliner WR Tim Brewster, now the head coach at Minnesota, while he was a TE at Illinois.
The 1948 game between P'burg and Allentown, Pa. featured an unusual "3 opening kickoffs". The initial kickoff had to be redone because the two bands had forgotten to play the national anthem. The second attempt was voided because the stadium lights went out while the ball was in the air. The 3rd attempt proved to be the charm. In the end, the 16,000 fans that crammed into Allentown's new stadium watched the Canaries beat P'burg 13-7.
The game between Hackettstown and P'burg that took place on September 15, 1939 marked the first night home game that Phillipsburg ever played. P'burg wanted to open the season using a newly-installed lighting system, but the original opponent, Newark East Side, refused to play a night game, so the game with Hackettstown was quickly arranged instead. The lighting system was eventually replaced by a new system in 1956. The Tigers, led by legendary coach Chot Morrison, beat P'burg 32-7 behind the play of 2-time all-state FB Joe Stanowicz, who later became an All-American lineman at West Point during the Glen Davis-Doc Blanchard era.
Former Liner head coach Harold Bellis and current head coach Bob Stem have played prominent roles in establishing the statewide reputation of P'burg's football program. A closer look at those roles reveals how many historic games the two legendary coaches have been involved in. Bellis played in the 25th P'burg-Easton game in 1931. He coached in the 50th P'burg-Easton game in 1956 after assuming the reigns in 1954. In 1961, Bellis coached the Stateliners to their 300th win, a 42-18 victory over William Allen. Stem played under Bellis in that 50th P'burg-Easton game in 1956, an 18-6 P'burg victory. After starring at Syracuse, Stem was named head coach at P'burg in 1973, and in 1979, he coached the Liners to win #400, a 35-18 win over Allentown Central Catholic. In 1981, the last year of his first term as P'burg head coach, he coached in the 75th P'burg-Easton game, a game attended by Bellis as a spectator. After a long career at Bethlehem Catholic, Pa., Stem returned as head coach in 2005, and during the 2006 season, he coached P'burg in the historic 100th P'burg-Easton game, which was also attended by Bellis. And in 2007, Stem was at the helm when the Stateliners notched their state-leading 600th victory, a 21-7 win over Hillsborough. Once again, Bellis was in attendance, and he posed with Stem, former head coaches Phil Rohm and Tom Dominic, and the Stateliner players for a picture celebrating Phillipsburg's historic achievement.
Former P'burg star RB Larrame Furman is the only player ever named MVP of the Thanksgiving Day clash with archrival Easton three times. Furman garnered MVP honors on Turkey Day in three consecutive years from 1988-1990. A first-team all-state selection in 1990, Furman capped off his brilliant career at P'burg by being named the Express-Times Player of the Year. He stands as P'burg's leading scorer (298 pts.) and second leading rusher (3,515 yards) of all time. Considered by many to be the greatest running back in Stateliner history, his promising career at Louisville was cut short by a serious leg injury.
Playing football at a school with the history and tradition of Phillipsburg is an honor that all players cherish for their entire lives. But for Stateliner football players in the graduating class of 2008, there was extra incentive to be proud of their careers. This group of Liners had the distinction of being part of four of the most historic events ever witnessed in P'burg's long and storied history on the gridiron. In 2004, these Liners were part of P'burg's 100th year of football. In 2005, they experienced the "perfect season", a 12-0 state sectional championship year which represents the greatest year in Stateliner history. In 2006, they participated in the 100th game between P'burg and Easton. And in 2007, they chalked up historic win #600, giving New Jersey's winningest program elite status nationwide. Such a list of experiences and accomplishments in just four short years is almost mind-boggling. Congratulations fellas on your historic journey through and into P'burg football history.
Phillipsburg's first coach, Mike Maloney, was one of the original founders of the NJSIAA, the governing body that oversees scholastic sports in the Garden State. As head coach from 1905-1931, Maloney's teams posted an overall record of 106-77-17. His 1918 team was the first team to be crowned New Jersey state champion. Maloney also served as athletic director at P'burg. His significant efforts in starting, building, and guiding P'burg's football program earned him the distinguished title of "father of Phillipsburg football". Widely respected by his peers, P'burg's football stadium is named in his honor.
Phillipsburg once put together a school-record 29-game winning streak. After winning their final 8 games in 1933 (all by shutout), they proceeded to go 10-0 in both the 1934 and 1935 seasons. A win in their 1st game in 1936 was followed by a crushing 50-0 loss to Bloomfield, bringing the streak to an end. Incredibly, P'burg posted shutouts in 25 of the 29 games, outscoring their opponents 510-31 in the most dominant display of football in school history. However, a dark cloud came over the program in the middle of the streak when it was discovered that the garnet and grey had used an ineligible player, QB John Dornish, in the 9 games preceding the 1934 Thanksgiving Day clash with Easton. As a result, P'burg was forced to forfeit all 9 of those games, and thus, one of the greatest feats in Stateliner history was negated.
P'burg also had a 29-game unbeaten streak which started with the first game of the 1941 season. The streak ended with a 7-2 loss to Easton on Thanksgiving Day, 1943. During that span, Coach Frank Klein's squads won 24 games and had 5 ties. The garnet went undefeated in 1941 (7-0-3) and 1942 (9-0-1). The 1942 team was crowned New Jersey state champion, while the 1943 team finished with an 8-1-1 mark. These three outstanding teams started P'burg off on one of the most successful decades in school history, a decade which culminated with another state title in 1949.
Phillipsburg once scored more than 100 points in a game, beating Washington 101-0 in 1918. P'burg also beat Lincoln of Jersey City 99-0 that same year. For the season, Phillipsburg outscored the opposition 336-13, with all 13 points being scored by Barringer in a 13-6 loss. P'burg finished the season at 6-1 and was named New Jersey's first-ever state champion.
Former P'burg head coach Phil Rohm was an All-American RB at Juniata College prior to his arrival at Phillipsburg in the early 1960s. He served as assistant coach in football, basketball, and track, and also coached football at the former Phillipsburg Catholic High School. Rohm was named head coach at P'burg in 1982, succeeding Bob Stem following Stem's first stint. From 1982-1986, his teams posted a 38-14 record, winning East Penn League titles in 1982, 1983, and 1984. Rohm returned to P'burg in 1998, inheriting a struggling program which suffered back-to-back losing seasons in 1998 and 1999. Under his guidance, the Stateliners recorded an incredible turnaround, tying for the Skyland Conference title in 2000, then winning a sectional title in 2001 with a 10-7 victory over un-beaten Montclair. His final two teams in 2003 and 2004 finished 9-1 and 10-2, also winning Skyland Conference titles, giving him a record of 47-28 in his second term. His overall coaching record at P'burg stands at an impressive 85-42 with six conference championships and one sectional title.
The 1942 game between Phillipsburg and Allentown, Pa., which ended in a 0-0 tie, featured an incredible 30 punts, 17 by Allentown. The game was played in a horrible rain storm that made playing conditions treacherous. The P'burg defense held Allentown to one first down, only 30 yards rushing, and 0 completions in 6 passing attempts. The tie was the only blemish on P'burg's record as the garnet and grey were declared co-state champion with Bloomfield and East Orange.
Phillipsburg put together a school-record 6 consecutive seasons with a 1,000 yard rusher from 2001 to 2006, a streak that ended in 2007. The feat was accomplished by Leonard Brice in 2001 and 2002, Brandon Mason in 2003, Justin Gaymon in 2004, and Art Wright in 2005 and 2006.
In 1969, Allentown Dieruff coach Jeep Bednarik pulled his team off the Maloney Stadium field and marched them into the locker room, refusing to finish the game with Phillipsburg because he "feared a riot". The Stateliners led 7-0 when the game was abruptly halted in the middle of the 4th quarter. The actions by the Dieruff coach represent possibly the poorest display of sportsmanship ever witnessed at Maloney Stadium.
As far as can be determined, it appears that the Bronico brothers represent the most members of an immediate family (father/sons or brothers) to have played football for Phillipsburg. Jim (end, 1953), Tom (FB, 1956), John (FB, 1960), and Bob (end, 1963) all competed on the gridiron for the Liners, with John being named 1st team all-state as a member of the 1960 state championship team. The historical trend of multiple family members wearing the garnet and grey, at times spanning several generations, has been a key factor in maintaining Phillipsburg's tradition of excellence on the football field for more than a century.
The 1933 season saw P'Burg finish with a 9-1 record which included shutouts against all 9 teams it defeated. The lone loss was an 18-0 defeat at the hands of St. Benedict's Prep. The Newark school later forfeited the victory, however, because it used an ineligible player. In effect, P'burg finished with a perfect 10-0 record.
Former P'burg and Syracuse standout and perennial All-Pro Jim Ringo is the only Phillipsburg player to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Ringo played for legendary coach Vince Lombardi with the Green Bay Packers before finishing his career with the Philadelphia Eagles. Phillipsburg's field house is named in his honor.
Legendary P'burg coach Frank Klein never played organized football on the high school or collegiate level. Klein attended St. Joseph's parochial school located on the south side of Easton, a school that did not field a football team. He then attended Lafayette College, where he did not participate on the gridiron. Incredibly, Klein's lack of experience on the field was not a hindrance to him as a coach, where he produced an 84-20-9 record which included two unbeaten state championship teams in 1942 and 1949. **Note: Klein did participate in service football while serving in the U.S. army at Camp Lee, Virginia.
Former Phillipsburg all-state and high school All-American linebacker Ned Bolcar was named Parade Magazine Defensive Player of the Year in his senior year at PHS. He later led the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame to the 1988 national title, earning All-American honors while serving as captain.
In 1969, Phillipsburg QB Brian Dominic, one of the best quarterbacks to ever wear the garnet and grey, torched Easton with 11 completions in 11 attempts for 157 yards and 4 TDs, and ran for another score, leading the Liners to a 41-8 rout of the Rovers. Dominic's effort, which earned him the MVP award, ranks as one of the greatest performances ever by a QB on Thanksgiving Day. His 4 TD passes stood as the record for the Turkey Day classic for 43 years until being broken by Easton QB Brad Wilkins, who tossed 5 in Easton's 35-18 win in 2012.
In 1960, P'burg's freshmen, junior varsity, and varsity teams all finished their seasons undefeated. The Stateliner varsity finished with an 8-0-1 record, and was named North Jersey Section 2 champion.
Bill Walsh, an all-state center in 1944 at P'burg, had a distinguished career after graduating from PHS. After starring at center for four years at Notre Dame, he later earned all-pro honors at center for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Following his active playing career, Walsh coached in the pros with the Dallas Texans, Atlanta Falcons, and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Many football players face position changes when moving from high school to the collegiate level. But few players have ever had as unique a change of position as former P'burg coach Harold Bellis. An all-state center in 1933 at Phillipsburg, Bellis proceeded to play QB at Lafayette College. A position change as drastic as this one, which would be unheard of today, reflects on Bellis' versatility as a player as well as a skillful eye for talent on the part of his coach. Obviously, the knowledge of blocking schemes Bellis learned as a lineman and the field generalship he acquired as a quarterback were huge assets during his coaching career, where he fashioned an 86-29-10 record, including two unbeaten teams and a state championship in 1960.