Quarterback Joe Flacco is preparing to lead the Baltimore Ravens into Super Bowl battle Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. But long before he was spiraling bombs for Baltimore, Flacco was a South Jersey kid making waves on the football field for Audubon High School.
Flacco’s Colonial Conference play brought him to West Deptford a decade ago as a Green Wave player.
“He just happened to get hot, stay hot and threw for a record number of yards,” Clyde Folsom, who has coached West Deptford football for 23 years, says of one particularly memorable matchup against the future NFL player.
With all the time that has passed, Folsom still remembers when his team went up against Flacco. It was 2002, Flacco’s senior season and a year that would end with West Deptford as state champions. But in this game, West Deptford and Audubon were duking it on the field.
The quarterback’s right arm that would eventually gain him entry into the NFL was already on display. Flacco completed 37 out of 55 passes for a total of 471 yards and three touchdowns—breaking the South Jersey record in a single game.
Folsom even remembers the weather that day—saying at 75 degrees with no wind and Audubon at home, it was the perfect day for Flacco to have the game he did. All the while, Folsom says, Flacco stayed very poised and level-headed. In addition, Folsom remembers Flacco did an outstanding job remaining consistent and finding his receivers—who Folsom admits weren’t too fast, but had precision.
“We anticipated a dog fight,” says Folsom. “Knowing who he was, it was going to be down to the very last whistle.”
Yet, while the team knew it would be no easy game, Folsom says there was never a doubt the Eagles would bring home a “W” that day.
West Deptford maintained a two-touchdown lead on Audubon for most of the game, with a score of 22-7 at the half and 29-13 at the end of the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, both teams scored a combined total of 57 points in just 12 minutes, bringing the final score to 64-35.
And while Folsom jokes that he wasn’t too happy to see Flacco set the passing record against his Eagles, there are no hard feelings.
As for the coach’s Super Bowl XLVII pick, Folsom will root for the Ravens. But not because of his brushes with Flacco; it's because Folsom’s daughter lives in Baltimore and his son-in-law is a Ravens fan.
“I would love to see a hometown figure win the Super Bowl,” Folsom adds.
Watching Flacco win the Super Bowl would only be icing on the cake for Folsom, who also had a stellar year of his own with West Deptford football. This past season, the Eagles brought home their second straight NJSIAA South Jersey Group 2 title. With the score of 42-28 over Cedar Creek High School, West Deptford not only brought home the title, but also finished the season with a perfect record of 12-0.