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Football: Haverford defense stands tall, posts zero in Luke Dougherty’s debut

Haverford High School's new football coach Luke Dougherty on the first day of practice ahead of the fall football season. (Pete Bannan/MediaNews Group)

HAVERFORD – The zero on the scoreboard ultimately owed to the length of Colin Reynolds’ grasp.

But that was really a matter of semantics. The bulk of the defense from Haverford in its 49-0 win over Central Friday night in the opener for both teams was utterly dominant, whether or not a Central player leaked through, as Robert Martin nearly did on a kick return.

Beyond that 76-yard dash, the Fords owned the day in the first game under coach Luke Dougherty. They held Central to 21 yards of total offense, including minus-2 rushing on 28 carries. The Lancers didn’t get their first first down until the fourth quarter, at which point the Fords’ regulars were long done.

It took Reynolds tugging down Martin at the 17 late in the second quarter to save a touchdown in what would be the Lancers’ furthest offensive progress. But Reynolds wasn’t alone on the defensive effort.

“It’s big,” linebacker Justin Marciano said. “That’s what we work for. That’s what we do defensive reps for, everything. We want the shutouts, always.”

Marciano did his part, with four tackles for loss in the first half. Ethan Mahan, who opened the scoring with a 22-yard touchdown reception, added a pick-six on the next Central series. And the Fords added a touchdown on special teams, with Nahshon Arrison-Fobb, as the up man on a punt, returning it 23 yards for a score, the only touchdown of the second half.

By the time Dougherty called off the dogs at the break, Central sat at a minus-30 on total offensive yardage, and they lost starting quarterback Elijah Glaser to injury.

“My mindset is just that we’ve got to get started early,” Marciano said. “You can’t wait for the first quarter, second quarter. You’ve got to get going, set the tone early.”

Mahan had the dream start. He hauled in a 22-yard score form Tommy Wright on the first play of the Fords’ second series. He then jumped an out route on the next series and tiptoed 24 yards to paydirt.

Wright hooked up with Tommy Caruso for a 28-yard touchdown on the first play of the next possession. That shifted the Fords to the ground, where Christian Pergolese (10 carries for 67 yards) ran for a pair of scores in the second quarter around a Jake Snell touchdown.

Wright was 4-for-6 through the air for 72 yards, hitting four different receivers. The Fords ran for 161 yards. The reserves got the entire running-clock second half.

Central, forced into using three QBs, had its moments. Alban Birdaini stuffed Pergolese on fourth down on the opening series. Martin had the two biggest plays of the game, including a 27-yard dash that marked the Lancers’ initial first down.

That wouldn’t be enough to spoil a memorable debut for Dougherty.

“It’s great,” Mahan said. “Trying to get used to things, it’s obviously a big switch. But it started out good, and we’ve got to keep going from here.”

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