By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
Burlington — The Florence defense is starting to dominate again. The Flashes’ defense is fairly new, with 8 new starters this year.
Yet, it doesn’t seem to matter, as they have shut out their past two opponents. The defense helped guide Florence to a 42-0 win yesterday in a Freedom Division matchup, with the Burlington City Blue Devils.
“They’re really coming on strong,” Florence head coach Joe Frappolli said. “I think that’s a tribute to Nick Lubrano (defensive coordinator), Pepe Pichette, Steve Ordog, and Ross O’Neill — all of our defensive coaches.”
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With the win, Frappolli has become the all-time South Jersey wins leader, with 231 wins. John Oberg, the former Delsea coach, previously held the record of 230 wins.
Oberg had the record for the past 15 years when he broke the previous record during the 1992 season.
“I’m just really happy for the players,” Frappolli said. “This is really for all the guys that played at Florence High School to all the coaches, who started this program. I just drive the bus now. And I’m tremendously proud to be associated with Florence football and our whole school community.
“As you can see, it’s all about the kids. I got mixed feelings right now, only because I guess I should feel more excited than I do. I’m not trying to take it lightly. I’m not one to reap all the benefits because it’s really about all the kids and the coaches and our whole school community. I’m glad that it’s over.”
A short time later, Frappolli finally realized what he had done. It just had to settle in first, especially after the players and the community gathered around him for his post-game speech.
“I guess if you stick around long enough and surround yourself with good people, some nice things happen,” he said. “We had our ups and downs over the years and we stayed the course. It’s what we tell our players all the time. You’re going to have your ups and downs in football. Football is like the game of life. If you stay the course and you refuse to stay down and never lose and keep getting up, then good things will happen.
“John Oberg . . . if he was still coaching today then we would still be chasing him because he was one of the great coaches that had a great program at Delsea. To be next in line with him, it’s a great pleasure and great honor, really.”
Paul Sacco at St. Joseph and Glenn Howard at Paulsboro are not that far behind Frappolli on the all-time South Jersey wins list. Sacco and Howard are both less than 50 wins behind Frappolli on the list.
Yet, Frappolli has no plans of retiring. He plans on coaching until he feels like he has nothing to offer to the kids.
“Everybody always asked me that,” Frappolli said. “They’ve been asking that of me for the last 10 years. As long as I stay healthy and we feel like we have something to offer, I’ll continue to coach. It’s pretty neat that I was watching Mikal Lundy (former Florence player) on the other sideline. It’s all about relationships and the players that you run into along the way.
“That’s pretty neat. If you want to call it a selfish way, that’s what I get out of it — just the guys coming back that moved on. You get to see them as they grow up into adults. As long as I keep going with good health, I’ll keep going as the coach.”
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The defense has only given up 12 points this season in their first 3 games. Palmyra scored the 12-points on the Flashes’ defense two weeks ago.
“The Palmyra game, we were still strong,” defensive leader Chris Salaga, who had two interceptions, said. “We were just starting to work together. We just started to get chemistry working together.”
Since then, the defense has not allowed more than 50 yards in a game. Maple Shade had only 44 total yards and one first down.
And Burlington City had -3 total yards with only one first down that came 11:15 into the third quarter. Florence fumbled the opening kick-off, and then they had an encroachment call that made it first down and 5 yards.
Two plays later, City’s André Jasper had an 8-yard run that got the first down.
“Our defense barely allowed to have a first down,” Salaga said. “That was really good. Coach Nick (Lubrano) has been dominating the play-calling. We’re all coming together now. The playcalling has been great!”
Florence got off to an early lead. It was already 21-0 before the end of the first quarter. Quentin Loftin scored three rushing touchdowns within a 5-minute period to end the quarter.
“We tried to get the touchdowns early — like really early in the game,” Loftin said. “We tried to get them discouraged. We tried to get them to quit basically. I just tried to go hard. My line does a wonderful job blocking, so I just go behind them.”
Loftin currently has 9 touchdowns on the season. And he has a personal goal of breaking the Florence record for most touchdowns in a season.
The Florence touchdown record was set five years ago by Jorron Jenkins when he scored 34 touchdowns in the 2002 season.
“I have no idea (when I’ll break the school record),” Loftin said. “My expectations were (yesterday) to get at least 4 (touchdowns), but I got a little banged up in the end. If I don’t get 34 touchdowns, I won’t be mad, as long as we’re winning. I know this is a goal I set for myself, but if I don’t get 34 touchdowns, it’s not going to be a problem.”
After Loftin had those touchdowns, Florence went to the passing game to score their next touchdown. Junior quarterback Jimmy Martinson threw a 45-yard touchdown to Tyler Foehr to basically put the game out of reach.
It was Martinson’s second touchdown pass to Foehr this season. Florence didn’t have another score until the fourth quarter.
After Salaga intercepted his second pass of the game, Martinson had a 10-yard touchdown run, just seconds into the fourth quarter.
“It was actually my first interception since Pop Warner, so it was great!” Salaga said. “I saw the ball. The quarterback was getting rushed by our defensive line. It was so close to the ground that the referees thought it hit the ground. But I picked it off.”
Marcus Rawls, a sophomore, ended the scoring for the Flashes. He scored his second touchdown of the season with less than 5 minutes to go in the game.
“We played a lot of players,” Frappolli said. “If you look over the last 7-8 years, we’ve played a lot of people in the ball game. We try to keep a lot of kids involved in the game. They’re out there all week long; give them a chance to play. Give them a chance to highlight.”
Next week, the Flashes have another Freedom Division match-up. Florence travels to New Egypt next Friday night, as Florence tries to improve to 4-0 on the season.
New Egypt has never beaten Florence in football.
“They have some strong players,” Loftin said. “We are going to come out there like we did (yesterday) and play hard. We’re going to come out and show them Florence football.”
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