When trying to sum up his opponent, Rich Stanzione simply pointed to the bruises on both of his arms, the battle scars from 48 minutes of championship football.
"I give them credit," Williamstown's senior quarterback said. "They're a tough team."
Saturday night at Rowan, the Braves fell, 14-7, to a hard-nosed Toms River North in the South Jersey Group 5 title game.
Players described it as one of the more physical games they have been a part of.
But the loss, they said, did nothing to take away from a season in which they finished 9-2 and fulfilled a promise made to teammate Darius Boyer, who died over the summer.
At his funeral before the season, the team vowed to Boyer, who would have been a senior, that they would make it to this game.
"I think he'd be proud, I think he's happy up there. We gave it our all for him," said Stanzione, who transferred to Williamstown this season after three years at Washington Township. "I'm just so blessed to even be a part of this team. . . . Not only a team, but a family and a town that accepted me. I couldn't be more proud. We're upset right now. But one game can't define a season."
After a 98-yard opening drive that ended at their opponent's 1-yard line, the Braves offense was stagnant for most of the rest of the game, as it was bogged down by penalties and the bruising defense of Toms River North (11-1).
In the second half, Williamstown did not have a first down or advance the ball past its own 32-yard line until its final drive, which stalled at its own 45.
Williamstown did not cross midfield after Joe Early's 60-yard touchdown run with 2 minutes, 30 seconds left in the first half, which tied the score at 7-7.
Early was a bright spot for Williamstown, finishing with eight carries for 95 yards before being forced out of the game with a leg injury with six minutes left.
He had four carries for 35 yards on a fluid opening drive in which everything seemed to work for Williamstown, until fourth and goal from the 6.
Braves coach Frank Fucetola said he didn't consider kicking a field goal on what was ultimately the game's most pivotal play. Instead, Stanzione kept the ball to the outside, but was stuffed at the 1-yard line.
The play was symbolic of the wall that Toms River North formed from that point.
After the stop on fourth and goal, the Mariners drove 99 yards for a touchdown.
They were also hard-nosed on offense. Quarterback Mike Husni (21 carries, 83 yards) and running back Asante Moorer (23 carries, 112 yards) led a methodical effort that was capped by Moore's winning touchdown, a 1-yard dive on third down with 10:45 left.
"This wasn't going to be a track meet," Toms River North coach Dave Oizerowitz said. "We were able to buckle down."
Williamstown 0 7 0 0 - 7
Toms River North 0 7 0 7 - 14
TRN: Mike Husni 6 run (Kyle Bayha kick)
W: Joe Early 60 run (Vladimir Keenan kick)
TRN: Asante Moore 1 run (Bayha kick)