By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
Burlington — A night of firsts turned out to be much of the same.
The Florence Flashes football team played their first game at their new field, which is already nicknamed “The New Pit” in front of a packed house. The Flashes closed out their previous field last November with a playoff win over Metuchen.
And they opened up their new field yesterday, with a 28-12 victory over the visiting Palmyra Panthers, who haven’t beat Florence in 11-years.
“One of my kids said, ‘If you’ll tell us to play in the parking lot, that’s where we’ll play.’ I don’t think our kids really care,” Florence’s legendary coach Joe Frappolli said. “And people talk about the tradition of the ‘The Pit.’ Guess what? It’s a mind-set. The Pit was a place; this is another place. It’s a Pit mentality. We didn’t coin that word. We coined the mentality. That’s why we got on the back of our shirts this year, ‘Rocks and Bottles.’ It is a mind-set. It has nothing to do with the place at all.
“Yeah, it was a neat place to play, but it’s old, it got tired, and worn out. I feel bad about that, because that’s where I played my high school football, but this is a great place, a great facility. We sell the pit mentality, which is mental toughness, perseverance, hard work, team work, and keep hammering away. That’s been our theme all year long.”
The Flashes recorded their 400th win with the victory.
“Pretty neat I guess,” Frappolli said. “I didn’t know that until Coach Nick (Lubrano) said something to me about it. And I guess that’s another milestone tonight. I don’t like to look at milestones. It’s about all the players that played previously and the coaches that started it out — Coach (Marty) Fischbein and Coach (Joe) Papp.”
Also, Coach Frappolli moves closer to breaking the all-time South Jersey wins record. With the win, Frappolli has 229 wins at Florence, which is just one win shy of tying John Oberg’s South Jersey wins record.
Oberg has 230 wins from his time at Delsea. Yet, Frappolli doesn’t want to think about it.
“We want to beat Maple Shade next week,” he said. “We’re going to play meaningful games into late November and December. We have to stay on schedule. We have a lot of work to do.”
They may need to work more on their passing game. Some wide receivers dropped catch-able passes by Senior quarterback Jimmy Martinson. But it seems like the Flashes do not need much work on their running game.
Florence had 11 running backs combine for 282 yards on the ground, while most of that yardage was by one player. Quentin Loftin rushed for 92-yards in the game.
And he’s back being the featured half back.
He took a lesser rule towards the middle of last season, when Willingboro transfer Tim Bihlear took over the half back role.
“We go out there and do what we have to do,” Loftin said. “It doesn’t matter who’s the main guy or not. If coach wants me to play second string half back, I’ll do whatever he wants, as long as we win the game. The team is putting a lot on me, because everybody is relying on me to score.”
And score he did. Loftin had 3 touchdowns in the game with the longest being a 14-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Loftin also had a 3-yard touchdown in the first quarter and a 5-yard touchdown towards the end of the second quarter. His 3-yard touchdown was the first touchdown in the history of the new field.
“It means a lot,” he said. “I thought I would probably get the chance to score the first touchdown here. But I didn’t really know if it would happen.”
“(Scott) Meredith tackled the ball carrier,” Frappolli said. “Their player than fumbled the ball after getting hit. It was a fumble that we should have had. But their guy picked it up and ran it in (the end zone) on the kickoff.”
That was the only Palmyra score until late in the game.
The Panthers had trouble getting first downs throughout the game, even with Florence having 8 new defensive starters and a whole new secondary. They finally were able to get a few long plays going in the final two minutes of the game, when Morris Atkins threw a 48-yard touchdown to Pratt. This was after a 15-yard penalty and a sack.
“We did good,” Chris Salaga said. “We only allowed one big play, which was that big pass. We contained them very good thanks to Coach Lubrano. They like to spread you out, yet we were ready for it. It was great!”
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