Updated: Oct 17, 2022
Camden High School senior Taquan Brittingham scored a pair of special teams touchdowns in the Panthers' 41-0 win over Paulsboro in Camden on Friday, October 13, 2022. Roderick Self/D2 Sports Network
CAMDEN (N.J.) - Camden High School senior Taquan Brittingham began his football journey 14 miles south of Farnham Park in the 2.69-square mile community of Paulsboro.
Brittingham spent his early years in the city, but moved to the small borough in Gloucester County when he was in third grade and began playing youth football for the Red Raiders.
Life came full circle as the senior scored a pair of touchdowns in the Panthers' 41-0 dismantling of Paulsboro in front of a crowded house of youth football players at Lewis Katz Field on Friday evening.
Camden hosted a youth football night which recognized children from the Centerville Simbas, Whitman Park Tigers and Staley Park Panthers youth football programs. The players entered the field with the host Panthers and received free water bottles upon entry into the stadium.
"It was awesome," Camden coach Rob Hinson said. "We just wanted to make sure we had a really good performance in front of the little kids. They had fun running out with the team. Their parents were happy. A lot of videos and stuff. I was glad we were able to play well for our future Panthers."
Camden led 14-0 with 2:57 left in third quarter before Brittingham notched a 36-yard punt return touchdown and a 14-yard scoop-and-score on the ensuing kickoff to secure two touchdowns in a span of 14 seconds.
The senior's contributions created a 28-point advantage and erased any doubt.
There were no hard feelings for Brittingham competing against his former hometown. He never forgot where the early chapters of his journey unfolded, but Friday night was business as usual.
"Paulsboro really built me to the person I am today," Brittingham said. "I'm really a dog on the inside. I played nose guard, I played everything at Paulsboro. They made me.
They my boys at the end of the day. But at the same time, we enemies on the field. We can't take none of that sweet stuff. But at the end of the day, they still gonna be my boys."
The victory came on the heels of a 7-3 win over Haddonfield last week. Brittingham was the hero with a 70-yard fake punt run to help set up the game's only touchdown and secure the triumph.
"I just take it play by play," Brittingham said. "Sometimes I don't know that I'm gonna make those plays, but (when my number is called) I have to be that playmaker to actually make those plays."
Quarterback Deante Ruffin added a pair of touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) in the second half and accumulated 291 passing yards against the Red Raiders.
Camden's defense also generated nine sacks as a unit, which backed up Paulsboro on its own goal line on numerous possessions. The constant pressure helped set up Brittingham's first score and established favorable field position on a handful of drives to aid the Panthers in accumulating 35 points over the final two quarters.
"We were mixing our fronts," Hinson said. "Tonight, we went to a lot of odd front, a lot of three-down, three-four (formation) stuff, which we haven't done quite a bit. But (Paulsboro) has been doing really well the past few weeks. They've been taking shots and doing a lot of vertical stuff. That kind of took away the big play."
Camden improved its record 6-1 and remained unbeaten against opponents from the Garden State this season.
Turning a 6-0 halftime lead into a 41-0 outcome showed the Panthers know it's about making adjustments and finishing strong.
After all, they see it as a testament to their conditioning.
"We work really hard," Hinson said. "I know every coach and every coaching staff says that. But we run like crazy. We got to pride ourselves on our conditioning because a lot of times we might not click right away. But if teams allow us to kind of hang around, we feel comfortable going into the end of games because we work really hard."