In a few years, maybe it’s a trivia question that gets knocked around on Thanksgiving Weekend.
Who scored the last touchdown in Colonial Conference football history?
The answer: Kyle Jones of Paulsboro High School on a 60-yard fumble return.
When the 6-foot-1 junior crossed the goal line with 9:03 to play in the fourth quarter Saturday, little did anyone know that it would be the final touchdown for a league that began in 1945.
Final score: West Deptford 21, Paulsboro 18.
“I wish we could have won it,” Paulsboro coach Glenn Howard said.
The Colonial Conference is no more as far as football is concerned. The 12-team league will be part of the West Jersey Football League beginning next season, joining the Cape-Atlantic League as its newest members and giving the mega-conference 95 teams in 16 divisions.
Every football-playing school in South Jersey will be part of its membership. The Colonial Conference was unanimously approved by a vote of West Jersey teams in early November after it voted 8-4 as a conference to seek membership.
Haddonfield, Haddon Heights, Woodbury and Paulsboro were against the merger.
“The Colonial Conference has a ton of tradition. In a sense, it’s a little bit sad,” said West Deptford coach Clyde Folsom, whose team will likely lose a Thanksgiving showdown with Paulsboro that’s been played since 1991.
“The older you get, the more you believe in tradition. We’ve let something go that was very strong, but for a good reason. We welcome the opportunity, not just for ourselves but for the Group 1 schools in our conference that need to play teams their size so they can establish a program, rebuild a program.”
A more competitive schedule would also help a team like West Deptford. Crossovers against teams that are traditionally stronger would replace matchups that have led to blowouts by halftime.
“No one wins when you win a game 60-0,” Folsom said. “We don’t get any better and the team we beat certainly is not getting any better.”
The top seed in South Jersey Group 2, the Eagles (11-0) will play Cedar Creek for the sectional title Sunday at Rowan University. They put at least 60 points on the scoreboard four times this season and are averaging better than 41 points per game.
For Howard, Colonial Conference football is all that he’s known. But as always, he’ll prepare for the next team on the schedule no matter who it might be.
“I’m sorry to see the league come to an end to tell you the truth,” said Howard, who took over at his alma mater in 1987 and is third in South Jersey history with a career record of 264-56. He’s also directed the Red Raiders to 12 sectional titles.
“That’s all I’ve ever known. I played in the Colonial as a player at Paulsboro and I’ve participated in the Colonial my whole coaching career. It’s going to be missed by us in Paulsboro, by me. But we’ll see what it holds.
“My bottom line is that I’m going to try to prepare my team, my players at Paulsboro for whoever we play against. I’m not worried about the schedule, what it holds, who we play on Thanksgiving or even in the first game. I’m going to focus on getting my players better, our program better.”
Kevin Minnick; (856) 486-2424; email@example.com