HAVERFORD — Friday was a night of firsts at A.G. Cornog Stadium.
Friday was the first game for Central League players, who are keeping their fingers crossed they can get through five weeks of an uninterrupted schedule during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Friday also was the first game for David Barr as head coach at Upper Darby. The Haverford High graduate made his debut against Joe Gallagher, whom he played for back in the 1990s.
And Friday marked the first game in which George Moscony intercepted two passes. The senior accounted for half of his team’s picks in a 40-0 drubbing over the Royals.
“We’ve been prepping all week, like where we should be in our coverages, and just watching a lot of film to get ready,” said Moscony, who is among a slew of new faces starting on offense and defense for the Fords. “It was kind of second nature. Our scout team gives us good looks, so you know what’s coming when the game starts. It always helps when you come out strong on defense.”
Moscony and the Haverford secondary made life difficult for sophomore quarterback Donte Shaw, who was among several first-year varsity players playing for the Royals. Casey Gilroy and Jimmy Wright also notched interceptions. For Gilroy, his pick came immediately after he had a fantastic 39-yard touchdown connection with sophomore Tommy Wright, who split reps at quarterback with senior Tommy Caruso. The quarterback duo was 6-for-9 with 96 yards through the air.
“We feel we are both able to do it all, basically,” Caruso said. “It’s based on what (the opposing team’s) defense is and whoever is playing better. We both can do it and basically it’s our coaches trusting us to get it done.”
Wright’s big brother, Jimmy, stole the show from an offensive standpoint. The senior running back amassed 110 yards on 19 carries with three touchdowns.
“It was a good way to start the season. They are definitely our rival and that makes it 11 years in a row Haverford has beaten Upper Darby,” said Jimmy Wright. The Fords and Royals will meet again in five weeks on Thanksgiving morning. “I was maybe 7 years old back then.”
Jimmy Wright, who will be the focal point for opposing defenses all season, liked what he saw from his little bro and Caruso at the quarterback position.
“They bring such a dual threat,” he said. “One can throw, one can run and throw. It’s like the defense never knows what’s coming, it just confuses people and nobody will know what our game plan is going to be. That was the plan coming into tonight, to make them not know what we’re going to be doing on offense. And we put in a lot of new plays this week and we found our way to win 40-0.”
Jimmy Wright sprinted 12 yards to the end zone midway through the first quarter to give the Fords the early advantage. In the second quarter, the Fords created three turnovers and scored 26 points to take a 33-0 lead into halftime. Junior lineman Mario Tascione led a quarterback pursuit that resulted in a safety when Shaw was forced to throw the ball away from inside the end zone. He was whistled for intentional grounding.
Overall, Haverford’s talented defense limited the Royals to two yards of total offense.
After Gilroy’s interception set Haverford up at the Upper Darby 1-yard-line, senior Will Higson plowed past the goal line for another Fords touchdown. As time expired in the first half, Delco’s favorite kicker, Ryan “Beef” Wellington, drilled a 23-yard field goal to give the Fords a 33-0 cushion. Haverford began the second half by marching 61 yards on 12 plays. Jimmy Wright’s 12-yard scoring scamper concluded the scoring for the evening.
Gallagher couldn’t have scripted a better season debut for his guys. The Fords graduated one of the most successful senior classes Gallagher has coached in his nearly three decades at Haverford, but the varsity newcomers — sans Jimmy Wright and Higson, who were big parts of the 2019 team — made it look awfully easy Friday night.
“We needed that tonight just to say ‘All right, guys, now that’s what it feels like to be real.’ And I think this win’s going to help us a lot,” Gallagher said. “There’s a lot to work on, but I’m encouraged by the start.”