By MARK TRIBLE

Glory Days Football Writer

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP — Bright lights and an enormous crowd. Homecoming festivities, free admission and a rival from a mere six miles down the street. This, a night when Washington Township held an opportunity to display what it’s got, what coach Mike Schatzman has built, what the community has rallied around.

Then, the first offensive snap of the game ended up on the turf, ruled a fumble, recovered by Williamstown’s young Braves.

It could have been an omen of disaster. Lesser clubs would have let it become just that. Yet, for a group of Minutemen hungry to erase ghosts of rivalry games past and the stains of last week’s lost at Kingsway, that wouldn’t be the case.

A more appropriate signature came immediately afterward. Township got a turnover on downs. On the next set of downs’ first snap, star senior tailback Jo’Nathan Silver took the handoff.

Gone.

All of it.

Silver didn’t look back on his 75-yard score.

Neither did the Minutemen for the remainder, because back isn’t where they’re headed. By virtue of a 42-7 rout of Williamstown here, the boys in red showed their spines are stiff enough for meaningful football.

“I think last week, we had so many mistakes and penalties and things that were uncharacteristic of what we’ve done,” Schatzman said. “We slipped up, we didn’t play well and I think our guys kind of got off their high horses.”

Silver’s might not be high, but it can gallop. He carried 13 times for 194 yards and two scores. The latter also made for a one-play touchdown drive. With the game still in doubt at 14-7 at the 7 minute, 33-second mark of the third frame, No. 1 got the call.

Goodbye, 50 yards to pay dirt.

“I think it really just goes to our whole team,” Silver, a 4.0 student, selflessly said afterward. “We have many weapons so we can spread things out.

“It’s like coach says, it might be my night one night and another guy’s night one night.”

Nahmere Graves added a touchdown run and a 65-yard pick-6 to help with the heroics. Logan Perez grabbed a score. Quarterback Jared Dzierzgowski played well in his action with his legs and arm.

Lest we forget Quamir Land.

Land’s smile could have lit up all of Hurffville-Cross Keys Road after the win. He took pictures with the Border Bowl Trophy — one Township (5-1) hadn’t held since 2015.

Then, he spoke about what the win meant to him.

“It feels great, man — me and my guys, we put in the work and we’ve got a lot of leaders out here,” Land said. “My coaches put me on the D-Line this week instead of safety and it really stepped up the speed for us on the line.”

Yes, he went from safety to defensive line. He had “two or three” sacks by his count.

“Me and my guys are just happy, I’m proud of all of them,” the senior added. “I was just like, ‘I’m hungry!

“I want the action! I want to get after it! I’m in the trenches with my dogs!”

And in this glee-filled moment, Land demonstrated a piece of Schatzman’s oration about the togetherness his program’s begun to see.

Land’s teammates — not one or two, but the entire team that wasn’t in the middle of their own interviews — surrounded him and began to get louder and louder. They cheered him on and reached a fever pitch.

“There are a lot of people who have come out to support these guys because they’re very likeable,” Schatzman, a 2008 alumnus, said. “They’re hardworking. They’re great in the classroom. The teachers love having them.

“All these little things we’ve preached and wanted to build culturally, they’re coming to light.”

They were on full display here at Tom Brown Field.

“It took a big step forward,” Graves said. “We really needed that coming after a loss last week. We’ve been working together and building that bond.

“It’s stronger than ever. It’s something we haven’t had in a long time.”

You got the impression that 21-14 defeat a week ago to the Dragons wasn’t such a bad thing for this collective. Silver certainly felt it refocused he and his mates.

“We’ve got to have a 1-0 mentality each week,” he said. “It starts with tomorrow. We go back to lift, correct the mistakes and get back to practice next week. It’s simple.”

For a while that 1-0 could still be this Friday night when it all sat in front of a program as hungry as Land for ultimate success.

The celebration allowed for that. It felt long overdue around for this school and its fans. Cathartic, even.

Mark Trible covers high school football for Glory Days Magazine. Check out his weekly Facebook Live show every Wednesday at 7 p.m. The South Jersey Football Frenzy Show can be seen at facebook.com/acglorydays. You can also take in Mark’s “Hat’s Off” podcast every Sunday at 9 a.m. at our Facebook page.