Football Preview: Third straight title could be tall order for Haverford School

HAVERFORD >> Haverford School coach Mike Murphy offers a measured response when anyone questions him about complacency in the midst of so much success. His Fords have won consecutive Inter-Ac League titles, including a dominant 9-1, 2014 campaign that featured blowouts of area stalwarts Downingtown East (54-12) and Roman Catholic (41-22) in addition to a perfect 5-0 record in league play. But, Murphy suggests, this is still new territory for Haverford School and difficult terrain to navigate.

“I like to try and remind people that we went 38 years without winning an Inter-Ac title here. As soon as you start taking it for a given, it’s not an easy thing to get,” Murphy says. “I’ve never kind of let us forget that even though it’s my 11th season here and most of these guys weren’t around, I always remind these guys that there were some times where people struggled to get where we’re at. We don’t want to go back there.”

The makeup of the 2015 Fords will be something to watch in the early going. On one hand, 22 seniors graduated from that dominant 2014 team. On the other, an experienced group returns to the starting lineup on both sides of the ball.

Senior quarterback Kevin Carter will guide an offense that averaged 37.7 points per game a season ago. Carter, at 5-11, is an intelligent pocket passer who can escape danger with his legs. He threw 16 touchdowns against four interceptions and led the county with a passer rating of 170.82 in his first season in charge. To hear him say it, Carter has even more in store in 2015.

“Last year as a junior, I wasn’t sure necessarily on where I stood,” he admits. “I wanted to rush things because we ran a fast-paced offense. This year I would like to slow things down, but still keep the tempo, looking at the defense in the front and count the box and things like that.”

Linebacker Mickey Kober is one of the senior leaders for a Haverford School team that will be trying to make it three straight Inter-Ac League titles. (Times Staff/Tom Kelly IV)
Linebacker Mickey Kober is one of the senior leaders for a Haverford School team that will be trying to make it three straight Inter-Ac League titles. (Times Staff/Tom Kelly IV)

He’ll be happy to have favorite targets Dox Aitken, a 6-3, Virginia-bound lacrosse recruit, and Micah Sims back in the offensive mix.

“Dox and Micah are my best friends. I’m always with them. We always work out,” says Carter. “We have good chemistry, knowing who to throw the ball to, where to throw the ball. So I’m excited. I think all of us will have good seasons together.”

The chemistry among the skill players will aid what should be another terrific offense. So too will the freedom Murphy allows his more experienced starters.

“I love playing with Kevin. He’ll put it where you are so it’s kind of up to you getting space and getting free,” says Aitken. “I love our offense. Coach Murphy gives us a lot of room to work with.”

While the attack will have a familiar look, the Kober brothers will give the Haverford School defense a familial element. Mickey, a 6-1 senior, welcomes junior Chris to the linebacking corps.

“I’m excited,” Mickey said, beaming. “There’s no one I’d rather have next to me.”

Two-way starter Frank Cresta completes an enviable group of defensive stoppers, not to mention a loaded secondary that features Aitken, Sims, and newcomer Keyveat Postell whom Murphy calls “a college-level player.”

This is no rebuild in Haverford, in other words. This is a reload. But you won’t find any arrogance in the locker room.

“I don’t get a sense around this program that we’re deserving of anything or something is just going to be given to us, or that when you come to Haverford you win football games,” Murphy said. “I don’t get that sense at all. I think these guys know that we have a challenge ahead of us. In my opinion, all the teams in our league are going to be improved and gunning for us.”

These Fords want to leave behind their own legacy, one that matches the exploits of their former teammates.

“We had a meeting with the rising seniors saying this is our team now. We’re going to go out on the right note,” Mickey Kober said. “We’re going to be the team we’re going to be, not the team we were. We were 9-1. That’s in the past.”

Haverford has inexperience at running back — juniors Eli Godfrey and Mallik Twyman will split carries — and on both lines. But the biggest thing that could hold the Fords back may just be the standard they’ve set over the past two seasons.

“Last year, we surprised some people,” Murphy admits. It’s safe to say that won’t happen again.

This story appears in the Delco Times Football Preview, available on newsstands Friday.

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