Haverford rolls, then turns its attention elsewhere

HAVERFORD >> After a 16-yard touchdown dash, Haverford High quarterback Jack Donaghy raced back to the sideline with the same vigor he used to find the end zone seconds before. The play gave the Fords a 14-point advantage over Lower Merion on their way to a 56-0 rout of the Aces. But there were other results on Donaghy’s mind, even as early as the 5:16 mark of the first quarter.

“Is there a score in the Upper Darby game?” he asked as he continued his jaunt.

Donaghy wasn’t alone in his eagerness nor his curiosity. As Haverford pounded its opponent, the Royals hosted Garnet Valley three miles up the road in a contest with major implications for the Fords. If the Upper Darby won, the annual Thanksgiving showdown with Haverford would double as a Central League title game. If the Jags pulled off the upset, the Fords would see a boost to their District One Class AAAA prospects as well as clinch at least a share of their first league championship in 20 years.

Even Haverford head coach Joe Gallagher allowed his mind to wander from his own game. Although he espoused the requisite “focus” and “things will take care of themselves” cliches, he left an ear open for breaking news.

“We had an injured player checking the scores,” Gallagher said laughing. “I didn’t solicit it, but he was walking by and giving me updates.”

Senior linebacker Billy Farrell admitted that he started paying attention to the Royals’ plight after the first quarter.

“I couldn’t help it,” he said with a shrug.

Of course, the Fords did have some business to handle on their senior night. And the man who’s done it all year for Haverford continued to pace the home team. Donaghy connected on nine of his 13 passes for 136 yards and three touchdowns through the air. The Fords scored on their first five drives of the game. Connor Guilfoil got the parade to the end zone going by snaring a Donaghy pass over the middle for a 25-yard touchdown. Three minutes later, Donaghy scampered in for his lone rushing score of the night.

A 13-yard screen for six to Mike Romanofsky, who also scored on a 1-yard plunge, followed as did a Bobby McClure touchdown catch. With more than seven minutes to play in the half, Haverford led, 35-0, and its starters could rest, or rather, turn their attention elsewhere.

“It’s exactly what we were talking about, the focus that was necessary to get the job done,” Gallagher said of his group’s explosive start. “It was the seniors on senior night. They’re the leaders of the team.”

The starters’ early exit allowed for some highlights for the second-string players, namely sophomore running back Travis Weiss. Weiss gashed the Aces (2-8, 1-7 Central) for 190 yards and a touchdown in two-plus quarters of action. Junior Kevin Odgers put his name in the boxscore as well.

But the cheers the Fords fans mustered for each of their eight touchdowns paled in comparison to those reserved for Garnet Valley scores.

After the running clock hit zero, Haverford celebrated an easy win as the Jaguars clung to a 34-27 fourth-quarter lead — the last update announced by the PA.

The Fords (9-1, 8-0) gathered for pictures on their side of the 50, holding up index fingers indicating their temporary place in the standings.

Farrell escaped once the iPhones went away.

“I would prefer it to be for the sole title,” he said of the impending match with Upper Darby before asking for another update. At that point the Royals tied things at 34 (They would win 41-34). Farrelly smiled at the news. “Either way it’s going to be awesome.”

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