By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
Trenton, N.J. — The Jersey Flight has been planning Friday night for over a year. The Flight won their home opener though despite some things not going according to plan.
The planning for the franchise began in March 2017 with the announcement of the team. The Flight defeated the Western Maryland Warriors, 71-12, at PrimePoint Field at CURE Insurance Arena.
“It was a good team win,” Flight head coach Jake Grande said. “I like the way we executed on offense and defense. The guys did what we asked them to do. We asked them to play four quarters of good football.”
The Flight improved to 1-1 on the season. In their debut, Jersey lost 40-39 to the Rochester Kings on March 17th.
“I didn’t expect this,” Grande said. “I thought we would be better, but I did not expect this. I thought with the extra practices following the game with the byes, we would be better. I thought in that game [the first game], we were just learning each other and getting to know one another. Now that we got this home game out of the way, I expect that we’ll play better the rest of the season.”
The Warriors fell to 1-1 on the season, as well.
Western Maryland, according to an assistant coach, is playing out the season despite a dispute with its owners.
In 2016, the Philadelphia Soul held a single game at the Arena when they were displaced due to the Democratic Convention. However, this was the first game since the Trenton Freedom ceased operations in 2015.
Steve Panasuk is the only holdover from the Freedom era, who is currently on this roster. On the same arena floor that he previously played on, he excelled.
“It’s awesome,” Panasuk said. “I’m so happy and blessed to be able to play at home again. I live 20 minutes down the road in Jackson. It was either play as close to home as possible, or not play anymore. I was blessed to have my first child, so the decision had to be made. I found out that Jersey was getting a team again, so it was the perfect opportunity. I love it. I’m so excited to be back here.”
He took part in 10 touchdowns. He rushed for one touchdown, and threw nine touchdowns.
Panasuk hit Emery Sammons for three touchdowns. Dashown Waller and Norm Brown also caught two of his touchdowns.
He also threw a touchdown each to Tyriq Smith and Matt Cohen. Smith also had a rushing touchdown to end the game.
“It wasn’t just me, it was all of us,” Panasuk said. “The O-line played great. I could have cooked breakfast backed there with how long they gave me. They did a phenomenal job and the receivers did great. They made it easy for me. You have to include a great job by our defense and special teams. We needed this as a team.”
Dwayne Marshall accounted for the Warriors two scores. First, he caught a touchdown from Tyquan Bryant.
Marshall also had a pick-six late in the game. However, after each score, Marc Gottfried missed both extra points.
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