It’s all systems go with Toal at quarterback as Haverford School rolls

YEADON >> If Tommy Toal had any jitters about making his first varsity start at quarterback for the No. 1 team in Delaware County, he didn’t let them show.

The Haverford School junior prepared two weeks for Saturday’s nonleague game against Penn Wood. He replaced All-Delco Kevin Carter, who went down with a season-ending injury in the Fords’ Week 3 victory over West Catholic.

Toal was impressive in his starting debut, connecting on 10 of 18 passes for 176 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-6 win.

“I had some butterflies,” said Toal, a Springfield resident. “My guys were there to pick me up. All the skill players were awesome and the line was great. We had a good practice week and that always helps.”

When he entered in the second half of the West Catholic game, Toal managed the offense. Saturday afternoon at Kerr Field, it was all systems go.

“This is a kid who, even before Kevin went down, he busted his butt off in practice,” coach Mike Murphy said. “He put himself in a position where he wasn’t going to just let Kevin have the position, but if this happened, he was ready to go. I think that showed today. It showed that we can run our offense with him. Are Kevin and Tommy a little bit different players? Yeah, but for his first effort … I thought he did a great job.”

Toal executed the Fords’ uptempo offense. He led the Fords on four first-quarter scoring drives. His first touchdown

Haverford School receiver Dox Aitken had a 65-yard touchdown catch to help the Fords remain unbeaten (4-0) Saturday afternoon. (Times Staff/Tom Kelly IV)
Haverford School receiver Dox Aitken had a 65-yard touchdown catch to help the Fords remain unbeaten (4-0) Saturday afternoon. (Times Staff/Tom Kelly IV)

CAME six plays into regulation when he found running back Malik Twyman on a 23-yard pass. Later in the period, he threw a strike to Micah Sims along the Penn Wood sideline for an 11-yard touchdown.

By halftime, Toal had thrown for 160 yards and three TDs.  His biggest pass was a wide receive screen for Dox Aitken, who darted 65 yards to the end zone to give the Fords a comfortable 34-6 advantage in the second quarter.

“The coaches did a great job this week. They put me in good situations in practice, like highly-intense situations, to get me ready for the start,” Toal said. “I owe it to them.”

Toal was most effective moving out of the pocket and throwing on the run. It’s a part of his repertoire he’s worked hard to perfect.

“With this offense, you’ve got to be able to move outside the pocket and complete passes. When things break down up front, I’ve got to be on the run,” Toal said. “We do drills all the time with scramble work and receivers coming back to the ball, so every time we scramble, we know where we’re going with it. The receivers know where to be and that just makes it a little more comfortable knowing that I’ll be able to find them. Those guys make it easier for me, big time.”

And the same could be said about Haverford School’s defensive unit, which forced six turnovers. Chris Kober, Mickey Kober, Frank Cresta and Sims each notched an interception of Penn Wood quarterback Javon Lindsey-Terrell. Notwithstanding a 50-yard touchdown run by Tayvon Ruley (117 yards) in the first quarter, the Fords defense showed more signs of improvement in its new scheme. The Fords scrapped their 30-stack defense two weeks ago in favor of a 4-3 front.

“We knew were giving up too much ground on the run game,” said Cresta, a senior linebacker.  “Teams were getting outside on us a little bit and we were facing a lot of skilled and athletic teams that can run. We realized that we had to force them back inside and just clean it up.”

Twyman is proving to be one of the top running backs in the county. He amassed 194 yards on the ground and totaled four touchdowns, including three via the run.

“He’s running the ball hard,” Toal said. “He’s putting his head down and getting the tough yards when he needs to and breaking off the big runs.”

The Fords entered the weekend tops in the county in scoring (43.3 ppg.) and total yardage (428.3). They accrued 433 yards of offense against the Patriots (1-4).

“I told our team there’s a lot of around that Penn Wood is not that good of a football team. I’m going to tell you: (Penn Wood coach) Nick (Lincoln) is doing a good job with those guys,” Murphy said. “I like their scheme and their kids play hard. Obviously they have some things that they have to clean up, but I’m proud of our defensive effort. As a coach, sometimes you say, ‘Oh I’m not worried about their offense.’ This offense (Penn Wood’s), with that running back (Ruley) and the kids that they have and they’re quarterback (Linsdsey-Terrell), who is a real nice player…we came in here prepared and on high alert.”

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