Few coaches in Delaware County know more about winning than Archbishop Carroll’s Dan Connor.
He won multiple District One titles at Strath Haven as a once-in-a-generation athlete in the early-2000s; he was a defensive player of the year at Penn State and he enjoyed success for three NFL organizations.
So, excuse Connor if he takes losing personally. After three weeks, the first-year Carroll boss is 0-3. The Patriots came close to getting into the win column at Penn Wood last Saturday, but dropped a 14-7 decision.
“It’s hard to be satisfied when you’re losing,” Connor said at Monday night’s Delco Coaches Association meeting in Havertown. “I’m not a guy who likes to take the positives out of a loss. We grow and we get better with each loss, but at the end of the day, we’re 0-3. … Each week, it gets a little bit better, but you’re judged by results and the results aren’t there yet. We know we’ve got a long way to go before we get to where I think we can get to.”
Unfortunately, life doesn’t get any easier for Connor’s Patriots, who will run the Catholic League gauntlet the next several weeks. As one of the smallest Class 5A schools in the area, the Pats are stuck in the same Catholic League Red Division with powerhouses La Salle, St. Joseph’s Prep, Roman Catholic and Archbishop Ryan. They play La Salle (1-2) and Prep (3-0) the next two weeks.
“We’ll chip away and take it one week at a time,” Connor said.
He has been pleased with several individuals, including safety Greg Natale, who posted several tackles and an interception in the loss to Penn Wood.
“Greg’s a tough safety and he’s been playing very well,” Connor said. “He had seven tackles, two for a loss, and an interception. He’s just a tough, physical kid. Again, when you lose it’s hard to put guys up (for weekly player of the week honors), but that’s just my mentality.”
Connor’s first three weeks as a high school boss haven’t gone as planned, but he’s learning a lot about what it takes to succeed in the profession.
“The growth I’ll have as a coach this year, I’m learning a ton about trying to find a way. That’s what it comes down to,” he said. “I want to get in tough situations. Moving up to the Red Division and playing some of the best teams in the state, and maybe in the country, that’s the challenge. I knew the challenge, I knew what we were getting into. It’s a three-or four-year deal before you build it up. You have to spend offseasons bringing up the kids and changing the environment.”
Here’s a look at five games to watch this weekend:
Bishop McDevitt (1-1) at Cardinal O’Hara (3-0), Friday, 7
The Lions earned a 41-6 victory over Chester last Saturday. They have outscored their opponents, 118-12. Myles Henderson (208 yards, three TDs) and Te’Ron Johnson (182 yards, 1 TD) are a formidable backfield tandem and quarterback Tom O’Hara (199 yards, three TDs) has made big strides. O’Hara owns the top-ranked defense in the county, allowing just 75.3 yards per game.
McDevitt’s game with Germantown Academy last week was cancelled. It is coming off a 33-29 setback to Cheltenham in Week 2. The Lions will look to stop dynamic running back Diavante Lloyd, who has amassed 227 yards rushing with four TDs.
Haverford School (2-0) at Perkiomen Valley (3-0), Friday, 7
The Pioneer Athletic Conference front-running Vikings will be a good litmus test for the Fords, winners of 21 straight games.
The Fords overcame a 10-point deficit after three quarters with a 21-point, fourth-quarter explosion en route to a 37-34 win over West Catholic. Senior quarterback Tommy Toal led the way with 21 yards passing, including a 32-yard scoring strike to Sam Lindner to put Haverford in front in the final stanza.
Springfield (3-0) at Radnor (1-2), Friday, 7
The Cougars are rolling after their 38-14 triumph over Upper Darby in Week 3. In that contest, Dan Strawley had a pair of interception returns for a touchdown and Ja’Den McKenzie rushed for 133 yards. Johnny Fanelli threw for two TDs and Springfield’s defense limited Upper Darby’s ground attack to minus-four yards. It marked the second consecutive week that Springfield has held the opposition to negative rushing yardage.
The Raiders have sorely missed quarterback Pat McDermott and running back Jack Horvath, who haven’t played since a Week 1 whitewashing of Upper Merion. A fourth-quarter touchdown last week prevented the Raiders from getting shut out for the second straight game.
Haverford (1-2) at Penncrest (2-1), Friday, 7
The Fords got in the win column last week with a 41-3 shellacking of Conestoga. Sophomore quarterback Jake Ruane passed for two touchdowns and running back Kareem Bernard accounted for three scores. After a sluggish start, the Fords could be a very dangerous team for the rest of the season.
It wasn’t pretty, but the Lions will gladly take their 21-6 victory over winless Harriton last week. Caleb Mahalik is Penncrest’s top rusher with 232 yards and three touchdowns.
Ridley (3-0) at Strath Haven (2-1), Friday, 7:30
The halfback option pass heard around Delco — Malik Young to Allen Martin — propelled the Green Raiders to a 28-20 decision over Garnet Valley. Brock Anderson’s all-around effort on offense, defense and special teams earned him MVP honors at Monday’s Delco Football Coaches Association meeting. He ran for 122 yards and also registered an interception.
The Panthers have impressed two straight weeks. Haven could be 3-0, but it coughed up a sizable second-half lead to Interboro in Week 1. In last Friday’s 41-13 thumping of Lower Merion, Zach Newlon rushed for 108 yards and four TDs.