Heading into the 2023 season, North Warren Regional Head Coach Eugene Fluri sees a pretty level playing field in the National Blue League.
Fluri’s Patriots, who won the championship in the league last year, will take that field with 13 fewer seniors, who graduated last year. But Fluri said he is confident with the core that remains, particularly with Luke Stephankiewicz returning as quarterback.
As a junior, Stephankiewicz helmed the Patriot offense to a 7-2 regular season record, the Patriots’ first winning season in five years.
Even with that core of seniors last year—Fluri pointed out that this particular group had played together as far back as elementary-level football—enough juniors and seniors were able to log significant playing time, particularly in the fourth quarters of several late-season blowouts, such as a 40-8 win over Belvidere and a 33-6 victory against Pequannock.
“A lot of last year’s kids got playing time,” Fluri said. “That really helped set us up for this year.”
Fluri said he thinks his team will be evenly matched with the rest of the league this year. A number of teams, such as Pequannock, didn’t get hit with major losses of seniors.
“And then you have teams like Boonton that play well every year,” Fluri said. “They are extremely well-coached.”
The Patriots kickoff the season with an away game at Whippany Park Aug. 31, a Thursday, at 6 p.m. First home game is against Hackettstown Sept. 7 at 7 p.m.
NORTH WARREN REGIONAL FOOTBALL 2023
8-31 Whippany Park 6 p.m. Away
9-7 Hackettstown 7 p.m. Home
9-15 Parsippany 2 p.m. Away
9-22 Kinnelon 7 p.m. Home
9-29 Boonton 7 p.m. Home
10-6 High Point 7 p.m. Home
10-14 Belvidere 1:30 p.m. Away
10-20 Pequannock 7 p.m. Away
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.