TOWAMENCIN >> Haverford High School’s mascot is the “Fordinand,” a nifty-looking antique car whose image could be seen on many of the gold and crimson sweatshirts that dotted the visiting side of chilly Crawford Stadium Friday evening.
But on this night, the Fords collided with the perfect football machine.
“They’re just a really, really good team,” Haverford coach Joe Gallagher said of North Penn. “The thing about it is there’s no weakness. You try to find a weakness and they don’t seem to have it. They’re very well-balanced offensively and defensively. Their skill players are crazy.”
The top-seeded Knights scored on their first six possessions and had young players named Xzavier Gorski and Garret Quallet making their way to the end zone after the break, as North Penn sped away to a 56-7 victory over No. 16 Haverford in a District 1-6A first round playoff contest.
“I thought it was very workmanlike,” said Knights coach Dick Beck, whose team improved to a perfect 11-0 and will host No. 8 Spring-Ford next week. “I thought the kids were very focused.
“It was nice to see the ground game get going with some consistency, and if we can continue that, and with the way Reece (Udinski) throws it, we can be dangerous. Balance will be everything for us as we continue on.”
North Penn gained 168 yards through the air and 97 on the ground in building a 42-7 lead by the break. Udinski threw for a score, ran for another, and running back Nick Dillon racked up four rushing TD’s.
“Even though they were short,” Dillon said with a smile, “you just stand and pound ‘em in.”
Dillon closed things out around the goal line, scoring a quartet of one-yard touchdowns, and he gained ground in waves between the 20’s, averaging six yards per carry and moving drives along.
Said Dillon: “We felt very positive. It was a very important game so we had to come out with a good intensity.”
NP’s first three drives were all finished off by Dillon and then Udinski ran around the end for another one-yard score and a 28-7 Knights advantage early in the second quarter.
Udinski found Nick Vasger in the back of the end zone for a four-yard toss and then another touchdown by Dillon made it 42-7 at the intermission and enforced the running clock in the second half.
Haverford’s lone score of the contest was a beauty, a 65-yard scoring strike from quarterback Jake Ruane to wide receiver Jordan Mosley.
“It was 14-7, a ballgame at that point, but we just couldn’t sustain consistent play,” Gallagher said. “They just had too much for us.”
It was still a strong season for Haverford (6-5), which lost the bulk of its 2015 Central League Championship lineup but still fought its way back to the playoffs.
“We knew it would be a rebuilding season in some ways but we made districts for the fourth time in five years and we contended for the Central League title again,” Gallagher said. “And we feel like we’ll be better next year.”
After Ruane connected with Mosley, the North Penn defense clamped down, forcing a turnover in the second quarter and two more in the fourth.
“We are not big up front defensively,” Beck said, “but we are fast and the kids play hard. In the secondary, I think we do a decent job covering. We gave up the long bomb but after that we put ourselves in position to really make some plays.”
Ricky Johns made back-to-back plays for the Knights, reading a slant from his linebacker position and making the interception, then going deep to catch a 43-yard strike from Udinski, setting up North Penn for one of its four second-quarter scores.
An offensive line that includes seniors Joey Cataldi (6-foot, 210), Keith Caputo (6-foot, 242) and Woo Sek Chung (6-2, 237) opened up roads and avenues for 233 yards rushing while Udinski and the receivers were in rhythm all night.
“This is a great time of year,” Beck said of the playoffs getting underway. “The kids are excited and they can’t wait to get in Monday and get back to work, check out the film and get ready for Spring-Ford.”
“Just gotta keep working,” Dillon said. “Keep working every day and move onto the next game and get another win.”
Top Photo: North Penn’s Nick Vasger pulls in Reece Udinski’s pass in the end zone during the Knights’ District 1-6A first round game against Haverford on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)