By Terry Toohey
NEWTOWN SQUARE – No one has to tell any member of the Haverford High football team the situation. The Fords know the score.
Win out and the Fords could grab at least a share of the Central League title and, almost certainly, earn a spot in the District One Class AAAA playoffs.
Easier said than done.
To do that, Haverford has to run a gauntlet of a vastly improved Marple Newtown squad, defending champ Garnet Valley and always dangerous Ridley.
Good thing the Fords have a couple of guys like Jack Donaghy and John Kim on their side.
Donaghy threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score, Kim did a little bit of everything, as usual, and the defense made enough plays as the Fords pulled out a 38-27 victory over Marple Newtown Friday night at Harry R. Harvey Field.
It wasn’t easy.
Despite leading by 17 points three times, the Fords (6-2 overall, 5-1 Central League) had to hold their breath as the Tigers (4-4, 4-3) did their best to keep Haverford from extending its winning streak to four games.
“I was sweating a little bit, but I have faith in our defense,’ Donaghy said. “I knew they’d get the stop we needed.’
The defense did its part and so did Donaghy. His coolness under fire helped the Fords open up leads of 24-7, 31-14 and 38-21 before Marple’s Adrian Sapnas, the leading rusher in the county, scored the second of his two touchdowns with 1:15 to play in the game to account for the final score.
The junior quarterback engineered touchdown drives on Haverford’s first two possessions, put another TD on the board right before the half and directed two more TD drives in the second half. He finished the night 12 of 21 passing for 180 yards and two scores, and ran eight times for 58 yards and another TD.
Donaghy opened the scoring with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Nick Costello and then scored from two-yards out for a 14-0 lead.
After Sapnas raced 84 yards for this first score to cut the deficit in half, Donaghy then threw an 18-yard scoring strike to Dan Boyle to extend Haverford’s lead to 21-7.
“I’m just trying to help my team win,’ Donaghy said.
And Donaghy does so with a calmness that belies his youth.
“Nothing rattles him,’ Haverford coach Joe Gallagher said. “He’s always under control. And he’s very confident. He’s made all the right decisions for us over the past few weeks.’
Having someone like Kim takes a lot of the pressure off of Donaghy. He was a quarterback until Gallagher moved Kim to running back/wide receiver because of his versatility. Kim could be a “heck of a defender,’ Gallagher said, but the veteran coach needs Kim on offense and most special teams so Gallagher has to give Kim a break somewhere.
You name it and Kim can do it, with the exception of one small facet of the game.
“I can’t kick,’ Kim said.
Yeah, but he can run, catch, run after the catch and create general havoc on a defense as he did Friday. Kim carried the ball 11 times for 85 yards and one touchdown and also caught three passes for 46 yards.
“I liked playing quarterback because I like to throw the ball, but I just love football so it really doesn’t matter to me where I play,’ Kim said. “You could put me on special teams and I’d be happy. I just want to play.’
The Tigers would like to keep playing beyond the regular season, which is why they put up such a fight despite being down 17 three times. Marple entered the game seventh in the Class AAA power ratings standings. The top eight teams qualify for the District One Tournament.
Sapnas finished with 209 yards to go over the 1,500-yard mark for the season and quarterback Marcus Weathers scored on a one-yard run to get the Tigers within 24-14 early in the third quarter. It took a ricochet interception by Haverford linebacker Mike Chicano and a stop by the Fords defense to keep the Tigers from pulling off the upset.
“I was really proud of the way my kids battled,’ Marple Newtown coach Chris Gicking said. “That the great thing about Marple kids. They’ll fight to the end.’
The Fords showed their Moxie, too. Every time the Tigers got close, Haverford had a response.
“We know the situation,’ Donaghy said. “A bunch of guys went online and saw that we’re tied with Ridley (for the last District One Class AAAA playoff spot) so we know what has to be done. We have to win out. Every game is important. We can’t overlook anyone if we want to win the Central League title and make the playoffs.