PHILADELPHIA — Eagles running back Corey Clement plans to call Arizona Cardinals rookie Wes Hills this week to offer encouragement to a fellow former South Jersey high school standout.
And to do a little bit of good-natured bragging.
Seven years ago, the two staged a remarkable duel on separate football fields that has reached legendary status among local high school football fans.
“Oh, I remember it,” Clement said last week with a smile.
On Sept. 28, 2012, Hills played for Wildwood High School at Maple Shade in a game that began at 6 p.m. That same night, Clement’s Glassboro High squad faced Gloucester at 7.
Hills set the South Jersey single-game rushing record with 452 yards on just 18 carries in a 61-34 victory. He also tied the South Jersey mark of eight touchdowns in a game, including seven on the ground.
The rushing record didn’t last long.
While Hills and the Warriors were celebrating his accomplishment, Clement was breaking the mark. He ran for 478 yards and seven TDs on 14 carries in a 45-23 win over Gloucester.
“Wes reminds me of that every time I talk to him,” former Wildwood coach and offensive coordinator Jamie Peterson said Monday. “We took Wes out of the game in the fourth quarter, and the P.A. guy announced Wes had set the record. Ten minutes later, the guy announces Corey had broken Wes’ record.”
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Over the years, the two players lost touch.
Clement went on to play at the University of Wisconsin before signing with the Eagles as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2017.
Hills played for the University of Delaware before finishing his college career last season with Slippery Rock University. He is in Arizona’s training camp as a rookie free agent. On Thursday, he rushed for a team-high 37 yards on eight carries and scored a touchdown in a 17-13 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers.
Hills kept the football as a souvenir.
“I’m holding this ball all the way to the hotel,” Hills told the Cardinals’ website last Thursday. “I might hold it if I go get food tonight. This has been my dream since I was a kid. To come out here and be able to score in my first NFL game, preseason or not, it means the world to me.”
Clement did not play in the Eagles’ 27-10 loss to Tennessee that night. Now entering his third season, he’s working his way back into playing shape after suffering a knee injury last season that limited him to 11 games and sidelined him for the playoffs.
He enjoyed a terrific 2017 rookie year that culminated in the Super Bowl, during which he caught four passes for 100 yards, including a 22-yard TD, in the Eagles’ 41-33 win over New England.
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He started participating in full-team drills during training camp late last week and could see some action in Thursday’s preseason game at Jacksonville.
He said he’s also going to catch up with Hills.
“I know what it’s like to go undrafted,” Clement said. “I’m glad to see (Hills) is getting the same kind of opportunity I got as a rookie. I hope he makes the most of it.”
How did locals do in the first week of the NFL preseason? (tncms-asset)9a1f0170-bad4-11e9-81c1-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)