HAVERFORD >> Before Haverford High’s Central League game with Strath Haven at A.G. Cornog Stadium Friday night, Randy Grossman addressed the team. Despite the words of inspiration from the former Haverford All-Delco, who earned four Super Bowl rings with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Fords didn’t have a good first half.
At halftime, Haverford head coach Joe Gallagher had more than a few words with his players. When Fords junior Travis Weiss muffed the second-half kickoff, things didn’t look like they would get a whole lot better for the home team.
That’s when Weiss let his legs do all his talking. He retreated to the three-yard line, picked up the ball and started up the field. When he stopped running, he was handing the ball to the officials after a 97-yard return touchdown that helped point Haverford toward a 23-17 victory, its third win in a row.
Jordan Mosley, who had seven catches for 185 yards, added an 87-yard scoring reception on the Fords’ second play from scrimmage of the second half.
“I got a little worried when the ball got behind me,” Weiss said. “I just went back and picked it up. Then I saw an opening and ran right through it. At halftime, the coaches told us we had to play harder.”
Some of the reason for that message was the way Strath Haven came out and tried to take over the game in the opening quarter.
“They were tough, but we knew to expect that,” Gallagher said.
Strath Haven (2-3, 2-2) controlled the ball for the first four minutes of the game and got a 31-yard field goal from Emmet Young. Two plays later, Jake Fisher picked off a Jake Ruane pass, putting the Panthers eight yards from the goal line.
Panthers quarterback Evan Atsaves covered the last yard on third down, and Young’s conversion kick had Haven ahead, 10-0, with 6:44 left in the first quarter.
Ruane (15-for-24, 238 yards) came back with six consecutive completions to get the Fords (3-2 overall, 3-1 Central League) inside the Haven 10. After a third-down misfire, Gallagher sent Sean Cannon out for a 20-yard field goal attempt, which was good.
Luke McCallion claimed a Strath Haven fumble three minutes before halftime, and Ruane’s 31-yard completion to Mosley set up Mike Romanofsky’s scoring run that made the halftime score 10-10.
While Grossman and his high school and Temple University teammate Steve Joachim were taking part in the halftime ceremony, in which Grossman presented a Wilson Gold Football to Haverford superintendent of schools Maureen Reusche and principal Pete Donaghy as part of an NFL program which salutes the high schools of Super Bowl participants, Gallagher and his coaches were trying to figure out a way to get their team ready for the second half.
“I honestly was yelling at him to down the ball in the end zone,” Gallagher said of his reaction to Weiss’ misplay in trying to field the kickoff. “But he’s an explosive player, and he has the ability to go all the way at any time.”
Mosley, who picked up 213 receiving yards in last week’s win over Penncrest, felt he had let his teammates down in the first half, even though he made six catches for 98 yards.
“We made some offensive and defensive adjustments at halftime,” he said. “I was coming off a couple of drops, so once I caught the ball I broke it out and got a great block from (Chris) Trainor and kept going.”
He broke a couple of tackles and changed directions a couple of times on his way to the end zone.
“That’s very typical of Chris Trainor to make that block like he did,” Gallagher said. “And at the end of the game when they were throwing the ball, he knocked down one of their passes.
“He just does all of the things we want a player to do, which is why he’s such a great teammate.”