After the final whistle blew in the West Deptford High School football team’s 45-24 win over Woodbury, Eagles’ head coach Clyde Folsom joked that, in terms of publicity for himself, he would be happy to stay at 199 wins forever.
The way West Deptford’s offense was rolling Friday night, winning 200 games may only be the beginning for the longtime coach.
Gerald Owens ran for three touchdowns and Josh Cornelius rushed for two more, delivering Folsom his 200th career victory as a head coach.
“It’s difficult to think about winning 200 games,” said Folsom, who is 200-66-5 overall, with 166 wins at West Deptford and 34 at Bishop Eustace. "First of all, I am no where near the end, so it’s just another win. We are just so proud of how hard the kids played. Coming in, we felt like if we could just keep it close, bang away for three quarters, then we’d have a chance to win it in the fourth quarter. It seems like that’s what happened.”
West Deptford’s lead was just eight at the half, but the Eagles wore down the Thundering Herd in the second half with Owens and Cornelius finishing with over 300 combined yards on the ground.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” said Cornelius, who helped teammates pour a Gatorade cooler full of water on the coach. “Great game, nice atmosphere; it was awesome.”
Owens finished with 192 yards and Cornelius had 123 on a night where the Eagles did not need a single completed pass.
Owens didn’t waste time showing off his blend of power and speed, recording a 39-yard run on the Eagles’ opening drive. He capped the drive off with a 5-yard score.
After the West Deptford defense forced Woodbury quarterback—and future Alabama student-athlete—Anthony Averett to turn the ball over on downs, Owens capped off another drive with a touchdown run, this time from 2-yards out.
“It feels great to score, but the line always deserves credit,” Owens said. “The line does a great job every week. They work hard on the practice field, and it all starts there.”
Woodbury clawed within 14-8 thanks to a heads-up play by receiver Mark Jenkins, who scooped up a fumbled snap by Averett, reversed fields and took it 60 yards for the touchdown.
Any momentum Woodbury gained was short-lived, though as Shai Mumford returned the ensuing kickoff up the middle, untouched, for an 88-yard touchdown that gave the Eagles a 21-8 advantage.
“I saw that hole open up and just went in and attacked it,” said Mumford. “It was a great feeling.”
Woodbury responded with a touchdown pass from Averett to Dwaun Martin and a two-point run to close within 21-16, but Luke Cornelius pushed the advantage to eight points with a 27-yard field goal with 37 seconds left in the half.
West Deptford—which didn’t punt on the night—started the second half by picking up right where it left off. Instead of Owens, however, it was Cornelius getting big gains on the ground. Cornelius broke the game open with a 45-yard touchdown and followed with a 31-yard score on his next touch.
The first score saw Cornelius break free down the near sideline, after a perfectly executed fake to Owens.
“I felt like I was going to cramp, honestly,” said Cornelius of the run. “I got outside and I did cramp a little bit, but I kept going. I smelled the end zone and got in there.”
Cornelius did the bulk of the heavy lifting in the second half, after rushing for just 12 yards on three attempts in the first 24 minutes.
“They took the perimeter away in the first half, and that’s why we were relying on G up the middle,” explained Folsom. “In the second half, it was set up for us to get the ball out on the flank and our guys did a great job blocking. They did a wonderful job. It was a team effort.”
Not to be forgotten was the Eagles’ defense, which held Averett to around 50 yards rushing, thanks in part to four sacks.
“It was a challenge,” said Mumford, who had a sack. “The way he would shake and bake was a challenge, and I just tried to get him down.”
It all added up to another win in a career full of them for Folsom. While he is not one to soak in the credit for himself, he did reflect on what it has meant to build the program over the last two-plus decades.
“I have been able to work with a lot of great coaches and we have had so many players part of this in the past, players that built the foundation,” said Folsom. “When you talk about it, that’s what I reflect back on, the fact that I was able to hopefully make an influence on so many players for so many years.”