The North Warren Patriots wrapped up their first winning season in more than five years with a loss in the first round of postseason play against Butler Oct. 28. Despite the first-round elimination, Head Coach Gene Fluri said his team had a season they could all
be proud of, heading into the playoffs with a five-game winning streak.
“The team delivered from the beginning,” Fluri said. “They stuck together. But we clawed, we fought. And I expected the kids to be that way, I really did. It’s pretty emotional game for a lot of them. Some of them been together since they were 10 years old.”
Butler’s 35-13 win was powered primarily by its ability to shut down North Warren stand-out receiver Craig Shipps. Under unrelenting pressure by two, sometimes three, defensemen, quarterback Jared Van Valkenburg was unable to connect with his go-to receiver.
Shifting to a ground game, Van Valkenburg turned to reliable running backs Angelo Fluri and Alex Diaz, who scored on a 42-yard touchdown run.
As rewarding as the 2022 season was, Fluri said he knows the team has work ahead of it this year, losing 13 seniors to graduation.
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.
Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.
Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.
Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.