Radnor coach Tom Ryan had high expectations for his team this season. With a three-year starting quarterback and 1,000-yard rusher back in the fold, Ryan had reason to believe his club would continue on its winning path. Last year, the Raiders won seven games, the most in Ryan’s 10-year tenure.
With one of the top quarterbacks (Pat McDermott) and running backs (Jack Horvath) in the Central League returning, Radnor had the potential to win eight or nine games and contend for a Central League title.
“It’s no secret that the season isn’t going the way that we intended,” Ryan said following a 24-6 home loss to Springfield last Friday.
It’s Week 5 and the Raiders are mired in a three-game losing streak. You could consider them the unluckiest team in Delco football. Due to injuries, Horvath and McDermott haven’t seen action since that impressive season-opening triumph over Upper Merion. Senior linebacker Naa’ir Williams is also sidelined.
Sophomore Sean Mullarkey has been thrust into action with varying results. It’s hard to put the onus on a young quarterback, and Ryan has tried his best to take the pressure off Mullarkey. In Horvath’s place, Ryan has utilized a running back-by-committee. Ian Henkel has received most of the carries, and Isaiah Coates displayed his athleticism in that role last week. Coates is one of Radnor’s best defensive players.
Ryan doesn’t use excuses. The Raiders could be 3-1 instead of 1-3, but Ryan tends to have a positive outlook on everything. He knows there’s still time to make 2016 a memorable season.
“Luckily, we have some depth this year, which is great,” Ryan said. “Going into the season we had high expectations and this is only game four. We’ll be OK. They’re great kids, and there’s value to be found in everything.”
Prior to Friday night’s game with Strath Haven, Haverford High will welcome host 1970 graduate Randy Grossman, who will honor his alma mater with the Wilson Golden Football. The Golden Football is part of the NFL Super Bowl Honor Roll program that recognizes a player or coach from high schools around the nation who graduated from the school and was a member of an active Super Bowl roster.
Grossman was one of six members of the 1969 All-Delco team who played professional football. He won four Super Bowl rings with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The others were Billy “White Shoes” Johnson of Chichester High (Houston Oilers, Atlanta Falcons, Washington Redskins); Don Clune of Cardinal O’Hara (New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks); John Cappelletti of Monsignor Bonner (Heisman winner at Penn State; L.A. Rams, San Diego Chargers); Steve Joachim of Haverford High (Maxwell Award winner at Temple; drafted by Baltimore Colts); and the late Chris Arnold of Darby Township, who played in preseason with the Oakland Raiders, was cut and then played for the Birmingham Vulcans, who won the 1974 World Football League championship in the one year the league was existence.
With a 2-2 record, Penncrest has experienced highs and lows over the first month of the season. Offensively, the Lions have received steady production from Caleb Mahalik, who leads the team with 273 yards and three TDs.
Meanwhile, converted quarterback Manny Ruffin has done well in his first full season as a wide receiver, posting 11 catches for 145 yards and a TD. Defensively, coach Rick Stroup has been pleased with the play of linebacker Shane Jones, who shined in last week’s shutout loss to Haverford.
In four games, Interboro’s Chris Thomas has 11 touchdown runs, including the game-winner at Sussex Central last Friday. With 571 rushing yards, Thomas has been the MVP for the 4-0 Bucs. It’s worth noting he still has a long way to go to break Upper Darby All-Delco Isaiah Bruce’s mark of 37 TDs last year.
With one week to go before the start of Del Val League play, every team except for Chichester is in action this week. In fact, the Eagles are the only Delco football team on a bye.
Friday night, Academy Park (4-0) travels to Cheltenham, Interboro (4-0) hosts Penn Charter (1-0) and Glen Mills (2-2) makes the trip to Camden, Del., to face Caesar Rodney. One of the most intriguing nonleague games of the season occurs Saturday afternoon when Penn Wood (4-0) travels to Haverford School (2-1), which had its 21-game winning streak snapped last Friday at Perkiomen Valley.
We’re a month into the season, and amazingly, nine Delco teams remain undefeated.
Every 3-0 team we examined in last week’s football notebook passed its Week 4 test. Academy Park, Interboro and Penn Wood highlight a much-improved Del Val League. Meanwhile, Marple Newtown, Ridley and Springfield sit atop the Central League undefeated. Perhaps the most surprising 4-0 teams are Cardinal O’Hara and Sun Valley. The Lions passed their first Catholic League challenge with a 35-14 rout of Bishop McDevitt. Meanwhile, Sun Valley won in thrilling fashion at Oxford, 19-17.
And, of course, we can’t forget about Episcopal Academy, which improved to 3-0 with a 42-14 shellacking of John Carroll (Md.)
Moving The Chains >> Haverford High’s Jordan Mosley set a school record for most receiving yards in a single game in last week’s 28-0 win over Penncrest. Mosley had 213 yards and three touchdowns on nine catches. … Academy Park All-Delco Teddy Wright has touchdowns by way of run, fumble return and interception return for the unbeaten Knights. … Cardinal O’Hara’s Tom O’Hara is 22 of 34 through the air this season with five touchdowns against only one interception. He also has six rushing TDs. …Bonner & Prendergast’s Alex Coll has a county-high 22 receptions, including nine in a loss to Lansdale Catholic last week. Upper Darby’s Sean Burke is second in Delco with 21 catches.
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Daily Times correspondent Harry Chaykun contributed to this week’s notebook