Izick Flores took a few years off from playing football despite an open invitation from the Hammonton High School coaching staff to return to the program.
The Blue Devils senior finally agreed to come back this year. It’s a decision that is paying off for both the player and the program.
Flores, a standout safety, made an impact in all three phases of the game in Hammonton’s 41-21 victory over Clearview on Oct. 9. It was the Blue Devils’ fifth consecutive win to start the season.
Flores made the play of the game in the second quarter, right after Clearview cut Hammonton’s lead in half with a long touchdown pass.
But Flores and the Blue Devils cut Clearview’s celebration short and grabbed momentum back by returning the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. The score gave the Blue Devils a 21-7 lead.
“It was huge,” Hammonton coach Jim Raso said. “At that point they came back and scored. The score was 14-7 and they started getting some momentum, (by) hitting for a big pass play. They kicked the ball off, and he stepped up big time. At that point we seized momentum.”
He added: “You can honestly see it on their faces. I looked over at their sidelines and they looked a little down. They were excited about hitting a big play, but we answered right back. It was a real big play for us.”
Flores also added one of three interceptions for a Hammonton defense that forced five turnovers. For the first time this season, Flores also saw significant time in the offensive backfield, filling in for an injured Daniel Figueroa.
He made the most of his opportunity, rushing for 96 yards, including 29 on a touchdown run.
“He hasn’t played in a couple of years,” Raso explained. “We tried to get him to come back out. We had one of our halfbacks out. It was the first time Izick was going to play (running back). He came up big on special teams, the offense and on defense, he had a really big pick for us. He had one hell of a game for us Friday night.”
Flores didn’t do it alone. Quarterback Malachi Winters opened the scoring with a 9-yard touchdown run. Zach Barnard, who finished with 56 yards on the ground, scored two touchdowns. Mitchell Vitali led the team with 104 yards on the ground, and added a touchdown run from two yards out.
Hammonton will look for win No. 6 as it hosts Moorestown (2-3) on Oct. 16.
“We try not to look ahead at all. We are not good enough to do that,” Raso said. “Our focus is strictly on Moorestown.”