Ready from the start, Cresta helps Haverford School sack Springside Chestnut Hill

PHILADELPHIA >> Following a narrow win against an inferior Penn Charter team two weeks ago, Haverford School coach Mike Murphy delivered a stern message to his team.

“You cheated the football gods today,” he told the Fords. “It won’t happen again.”

Translation? Be prepared for all opponents. Haverford took the lesson to heart. Last week the Fords dominated Malvern Prep. Saturday, they routed Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, 45-14, for the program’s 17th consecutive victory and first at the Blue Devils’ field since the 1970’s.

“Basically, we always emphasize the week of practice,” senior defensive linemen Frank Cresta said. “We sort of went through the motions against Penn Charter and we learned our lesson. Thankfully, we didn’t learn it the hard way. Each week is a championship game in this league.”

Haverford’s defense set the tone on the first drive of the game when Mickey Kober crushed SCH quarterback Jack Elliott for a seven-yard loss. It became a familiar feeling for Elliott, who is known for his mobility. The Fords sacked him eight times in the first half.

“A lot of it is discipline,” said Cresta of his group’s ability to get to the quarterback. “We weren’t letting him get around us. And we’re relentless on each play.”

Haverford surrendered just three plays of 10 or more yards in the contest. The Fords’ offense was equally ruthless.

Junior quarterback Tommy Toal has settled in nicely since taking the reins from the injured Kevin Carter.

Toal completed his first eight passes Saturday, including two for touchdowns to spot Haverford a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter.

“It was important to come out strong. We practiced hard all week,” Toal said. “We know we have weapons everywhere, whether it’s on the outside or the inside.”

He spread the ball around to that enviable collection of talent with tremendous efficiency. Malik Twyman rushed for 34 yards on two carries to set up Toal’s opening strike to Andrew Fine for six. Micah Sims caught the second touchdown pass, a 29-yard dart over the middle. After Sims returned a punt 25 yards, Twyman found pay-dirt with a one-yard plunge.

A Tommy McNamara 38-yard field goal followed, as did a fade to Dox Aitken and the Fords had themselves a 31-7 lead with complete domination. Toal’s first-half statistics: 10-for-12 passing for 143 yards, three touchdowns. The offense punted just once and converted 11 first downs.

“What he does that’s really good for a young quarterback is he takes what he’s given,” Murphy said of Toal. “To us, it’s not just let’s get the ball to one guy. We’re going to take what teams give us. (Toal) does a great job of finding his options.”

Toal added a rushing touchdown in the third quarter for good measure, as did sophomore running back Ben Stallworth, who led both teams with 103 yards on the ground. Seven different Haverford players contributed to the 45 points the visitors put up.

Matt Hoffman’s second-quarter touchdown reception and Ryan Murray’s 71-yard fumble return marked the only blemishes on the Fords’ (8-0, 3-0 Inter-Ac) day. They were well-prepared for everything the Blue Devils (4-4, 0-3) threw at them. And they had to be — there are no secrets in the Inter-Ac.

“We talk about that a lot from a standpoint that we have five weeks of non-league play for them to watch tape,” Murphy said. “Everybody knows what you can do. You better play every week.”

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