By Sean Lynch
Section 9 Football Insider Staff
Goshen — Goshen senior linebacker Tom Stephens and his older brother, John, aren’t just brothers.
Despite a nine-year age difference, they are best friends.
“It’s just like any close friendship,” John Stephens said. “We do everything together and we can talk about everything. I was always thankful that he supported me when I was playing. Now it’s my time to be his support system because he is a special kid.”
John Stephens was a standout running back/linebacker at Goshen, graduating in 2010. He went on to play at SUNY Cortland and after working on Cornwall’s staff for two years, served as Liberty’s defensive coordinator in 2016. Stephens was elevated to head coach in 2017 and led Liberty to the Class B semifinals, where the Indians almost upset perennial power Marlboro.
Stephens accepted a job as a physical education teacher at Minisink Valley High School earlier this year and coaches the modified soccer team. He misses coaching football, but it has enabled him to watch his younger brother and Goshen’s history-making season. The Gladiators (6-1) won the Spirit Trophy for the first time since 2003 two weeks ago, defeating rival Warwick, and clinched its first divisional title (Class A Division II in 24 years) last weekend.
Tom is one of Goshen’s leaders on defense, registering more than 60 tackles with two interceptions. He is also the Gladiators’ kicker. Tom grew up looking up to his older brother, but they were competitive.
“It’s been awesome that John has always been able to help me out no matter what I need,” Tom Stephens said. “He has coached me and made me a better football player and we do a lot of things together. I used to every one of his games and I loved it. I’m glad that he can now support me.”
John Stephens was more of a bruising linebacker. His brother is tough, but plays with more finesse. They do share a passion for the game and are leaders.
“Whenever I talk to (Goshen coach) Ed Killenberger, he talks about how we both have so much passion,” John Stephens said. “We both have that drive. Words can’t describe how proud I am of him and how grateful I am to be able to be a part of his senior season.”
Tom Stephens’ other season is flying. He is in the BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services) Career and Technical Education Aviation Program. He has learned how to use equipment in single-engine airplanes to qualify him for his Federal Aviation Administration Private Pilot’s License, which he expects to earn at the end of the school year.
He hopes to someday be a pilot in the U.S. Air Force. However, before Tom takes flight, he hopes to help Goshen make some more history. Of course, it means even more that he can share this special season with his older brother.