They're linebacker mates, and old friends

Posted: October 05, 2012

Artie Flemming doesn't have to look for Chance Negri on the football field.

He usually can hear him.

"Chance gets fired up out there," Flemming said of his fellow inside linebacker on the Triton defense. "He plays with so much emotion."

The old friends and old teammates will face one of the key challenges of their careers in Friday night's game at Kingsway.

In a game loaded with West Jersey Football League National Division and South Jersey Group 4 playoff implications, Flemming and Negri will lead Triton's sturdy run defense against Kingsway's potent run offense.

The host Dragons feature one of South Jersey's top running back combinations in junior Ray Lawry (65 carries, 829 yards) and senior Emilio Irving (37 carries, 346 yards).

"I love it," Negri said. "Sometimes you play against an offense that tries to spread you out or throw the ball a lot, and you have to deal with that. But as an inside linebacker, you love it when you know a team's going to try to run the ball against you."

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Flemming and the 6-0, 185-pound Negri are four-year varsity performers and three-year starters for Triton. They've been teammates since they were around 10 years old and offensive linemen for the Bellmawr Purple Eagles youth program.

"We're like brothers," Flemming said.

Triton coach Pete Goetz said Flemming and Negri are leaders for a Triton team that is 10-4 since the start of the 2011 season. The Mustangs are 2-1 this season, including a 1-1 mark in the WJFL National Division.

"These guys are both very, very good football players," Goetz said. "They've both got good heads on their shoulders when it comes to football stuff."

Like Negri, Flemming relishes the challenge of stopping Kingsway's running game.

"Our philosophy on defense is '11 guys as 1,' " Flemming said. "We know they [the Dragons] have two kids who are going to run the ball downhill, right at us. We have to stand up to that."

With Triton needing a win to stay in the thick of the division race and boost its chances of qualifying for what should be a loaded South Jersey Group 4 tournament, Flemming and Negri know they are approaching one of the most pivotal games of their careers.

Negri said he's confident because he knows he can look to his right and see his reliable and dependable old teammate.

Flemming can look to his left and see the same thing. But it's not necessary.

"As linebackers, you have to be fired up out there," Flemming said. "Chance, he's crazy."

Contact Phil Anastasia at or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter. Read his blog, "Jersey Side Sports," at

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