Sterling continues impressive football turnaround

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Sterling’s Greg Harris (2) runs the ball upfield as Deptford’s Kyle Wood-Roane (9) and Khion Smith (2) defend in the first half.

Some wins are appreciated more than others, and the same goes for winning seasons. Sterling’s football team is truly in an appreciative mode after continuing one of the more impressive turnarounds in South Jersey.

The Silver Knights were 1-9 last season and 4-16 over the previous two years. While it’s still early, Sterling has shown it means business after Friday’s 40-10 win at Deptford in an inter-divisional West Jersey Football League game.

Now 3-0, Sterling is feeling good about itself and for good reason.

Sure, Sterling will be tested on Friday when the Silver Knights host a West Deptford team that has merely won 15 games in a row.

Regardless what happens next week, this is the type of start that the program needed. And it is one which has received contributions from a variety of sources.

One of them was Sterling senior running back-linebacker Greg Harris, who rushed for 146 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries, as part of a deep backfield.

“You really appreciate this, especially after last year,” Harris said. “It’s our senior year and we’re going out there loving the game.”

The passion was also there a year ago, but the Silver Knights didn’t have enough to finish the deal. Four of the losses were by a touchdown or less.

“Losing those close games was frustrating,” said coach Dan Harris (no relation to the running back).

The Silver Knights used those losses to fuel this year’s wins.

“We worked hard in the offseason. Coach was on us, and it has been a lot of sprints, a lot of reps and a lot of screaming,” said senior running back-defensive end Damire Hutchinson.

And with Hutchinson, there was a lot of offense, defense and special teams work.

“I play with a high motor,” Hutchinson said.

That was apparent.

The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Hutchinson scored Sterling’s first two touchdowns on runs of 2 and 22 yards. He had a sack and was constantly finding himself in the Deptford backfield.

Early in the third quarter, Hutchinson blocked a punt that led to a Greg Harris 7-yard touchdown run, increasing Sterling’s lead to 19-3 midway through the third quarter.  The way the Silver Knights defense was playing, that a big enough cushion.

Deptford (1-3) was coming off a solid 21-14 win over Pennsville but couldn’t sustain much offense against a Sterling team that has allowed 16 points in three games.

The Spartans only score came on a 90-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter by Deptford’s Khion Smith, when the game had long been decided.

“I prepared for this game like it is the Super Bowl,” Hutchinson said.

What will he do next week when Sterling is in a battle of unbeatens?

Think about that, the Silver Knights are entering October undefeaated, a year after entered the same month winless.

This is an invigorated team, one that learned from the painful lessons of defeat and is now seeing the payoff.

Sterling             6   6    14   14   –   40

Deptford           0    3      0    7    –   10

S: Damire Hutchinson 2 run (kick failed)

S: Hutchinson 22 run (pass failed)

D: Jake Lynch 39 FG

S: Greg Harris 7 run (Anthony Barikian kick)

S: Joel Deaney 10 run (Barikian kick)

S: Harris 11 run (Barikian kick)

S: Chris Roe 30 pass from C.J. Barrett (Barikian kick)

D: Khion Smith 90 kick return (Lynch kick)