Haverford School’s Carter the right guy to have in a shootout

PHILADELPHIA >> In his long-term vision for his Haverford School football team, Michael Murphy sees a dominating defense, a ball-control offense and tactical, methodical victories.

Until then, the Fords will just win the other way.

“It’s not like we want to get involved in shootouts,” the Fords’ coach said. “But if we have to …”

If they have to, the Fords will be content to win as they did Saturday, 45-28 over Archbishop Ryan at Northeast High, prevailing in a display of two quick-strike offenses.

In it, Fords quarterback Kevin Carter would throw for 294 yards … a necessity, for Ryan’s Matt Romano was good for 250. In it, the Fords would punt just once … or just once more than Ryan. In it, Dox Aitken would collect 126 receiving yards … while Ryan’s Jeremy Smith was going for 94 and teammate Charles “Cha Cha” Gary was adding 85.

In it, the Fords almost literally scored whenever they chose … while Ryan came just a few later-game strides of matching highlight-for-highlight.

“Coach always prepares us for it,” Aitken said. “He always says it’s going to be a dogfight. So we are always mentally prepared for them maybe driving down to the goal line. They were moving the ball on us a lot today. But we kind of preach, ‘bend, don’t break.’”

Aitken, who has major-college football scouts winking though he has committed to Virginia for lacrosse, had a 10-yard touchdown reception and a 39-yard catch at the end of a Carter scramble that would be good for any play-of-the-day at any level of the game. He also made a key interception from his free safety position. And in a game where there were few defensive plays of note from either group, such awareness was a tilting point.

“When you get good players like that, seniors, they come up with big plays when you need them,” Murphy said. “Kevin was keeping some things alive, scrambling. That’s a big piece of high school football, guys making football plays.”
By halftime, Carter, the sitting All-Delco quarterback, had 204 passing yards, an indication of the game’s dynamic. Yet the Fords’ running attack kept Ryan just honest enough to enable the passing outburst.

Junior Mallik Twyman rushed for 89 yards, including touchdowns of 41 and 5 yards as Fords runners crossed 201 stripes. With their 50-34 victory over Del-Val Charter, the 2-0 Fords’ early-season 47.5 scoring average is impressive. Given their preparation, it’s understandable too.

“We put in a lot of hard work in practice,” Twyman said. “Coach Murphy is always on us in practice about every little detail, where to put our feet, how to block this guy, how to run this route and stuff like that. So when we come out and play games, it shows.”

The give-and-take nature had the Fords ahead, 21-14 before the Carter-Aitken scramble-reception put Carter in business for a 42-yard touchdown run. At the halftime horn, Tommy McNamara kicked a 22-yard field goal, which along with his 6-for-6 PAT precision would help him to a nine-point day. The Fords’ special-teams excellence also included a 39-yard Micah Sims punt return to the Ryan five, from where Twyman would score that second TD.

“It’s a team sport,” Twyman said with a shtug, realizing that the Fords demonstrate a pass-first preference. “If I am not getting the ball and we are scoring like we have been scoring, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about the team.”

In their 2-0 start, the defending Inter-Ac champions scored in multiple fashions, including with 1:05 to play when offensive tackle Mickey Kober recovered a fumble in the end zone. In the first quarter, Conner Mosebrook scored in a more traditional way, on a 7-yard toss from Carter.

For the 0-2 Raiders, Romano threw four touchdown passes, two to Gray, one to Joe Cannon and a 4-yard flip to Nick Novotny with 7:47 left. With Ryan Stock’s fourth point-after, that dragged Ryan within 38-28. That might have had the Fords fidgeting, yet also aware of their potential.

“We’ve got a lot of weapons,” Murphy said. “We have a lot of guys doing good things. We still feel like we are figuring it out a little bit, how to best work things between our run game and our pass game. We’ll keep working to find that balance. But the exciting thing is that we’ve got a lot of guys who can make plays.”

And to win that way until everything else falls in place, too.

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