No way this was just another opening night.
Not with Mainland honoring the four players who were killed in an Aug. 20 auto accident.
But rhe Mustangs and coach Bob Coffey tried to make things as normal as possible. They are competitors, and they want to win football games. Plus, the routine is a refuge.
So there was an emotional pre-game ceremony but then there was a football game.
Hammonton won by a 23-7 score, using its remarkable depth to wear down the home team.
"Maybe the deepest team I've ever had," Hammonton coach Pete Lancetta.
Hammonton is good. These Blue Devils are going to win 8 or 9 or 10 games this season.
But Mainland hung in there. A bad punt snap hurt, and so did a couple of turnovers.
Hammonton's Russell Forchoin broke an 80-yard touchdown late in the game to make the score look more lopsided than the game really was.
"We're going to be a good team and we're going to have a good season," Coffey said.
He might be right. His team put together quite a performance under the circumstances.
Coffey thinks the Mustangs will settle down. He think they'll get back into their routine now that the season has started, now that they'll get back to school.
This team deserves to win some games this season. After this game, it's not hard to see them getting some.
-- Phil Anastasia