Murphy Wins 2007 'Main Line Life' Football Coach of the Year Award
By Jabari Young
Michael Murphy is eager. The third year coach of the Haverford School's football program will not be satisfied until the team is the crowned champion of the Inter-Ac League. In fact, he may not be satisfied until the program wins multiple titles under his regime. The last coach that led the Fords to an Inter-Ac title was Mike Mayock in 1971. But all that may change. Murphy led Haverford to a 4-7 record this season, much better than last year when the Fords finished 1-10 overall. "We expected a little bit more," Murphy said.
Murphy, the 2007 Main Line Life Coach of the Year, said he was most disappointed with the way the Fords played in the Inter-Ac. He said he expected Haver-ford to do much better in the league. The team finished with a 1-4 record. "We always set a goal to win the league," Murphy said. "Looking at it from the beginning, we did not expect to be a frontrunner or to win it, but we did expect to be more competitive in the league." The season was not all that bad, though. Despite only finishing 1-4 in the Inter-Ac, Haverford was probably overlooked in the eyes of some opponents. Those who did overlook them, the Fords made them pay.
The four wins the Haverford School gained were games against Germantown Academy, Springfield, Pius X and Harriton. The most disappointing loss came at the hands of Archbishop Carroll, where the Fords almost pulled off an upset, but could not convert a potential scoring drive late in the fourth quarter. "We played tough and had an opportunity to win late and we didn't get it," Murphy said. "That one leaves a sour taste in your mouth." Murphy said every game played, won or lost, is used to gain more experience for next season. "As we try to look back on it, a couple of those games we got worn down," Murphy said. "That's where
the season took its toll."
None of statistics point to it, but the Fords were good in the effort department. The team did improve which is most important to Murphy. They did allow the most points in the league with 257, and scored the fewest with 145, but did not finish last in the Inter-Ac. The only stat that was in favor of the Fords is their home record. Haverford was 4-2 at home, but 0-5 on the road. Think about it. Had the entire season been played at home, Haverford may have been at the top of the league. "Overall as a program," Murphy said, "I give our effort a B. We competed week in and week out with a very young football team."
Being able to bounce back from a 1-10 season was the highlight of the year. This season's finish was the best finish since 2003, when Haverford went 4-6. Murphy said his team should only get better. "We want to win every football game," he said. "We're looking at our preseason before the league next year as an opportunity to prepare us to be more competitive in the league. We're excited about the group that we have coming back." Murphy said he wants his players to improve in the weight room over the off-season. He said Haverford's opponents are bigger and stronger and "we need to make sure that we improve in that area."
Two players that will return are running back Terrance FitzSimmons, who had 555 yards rushing and scored seven touch-downs, and quarterback Dan Judge, who led the Fords with 1,200 total yards. Judge threw for six touchdowns and had four rushing touchdowns on the year. "Coach Murph' was a good guy," Judge said. "We had one win last year and went up to four wins this year. [Haverford's program] is really on the upswing going into next year." Asked if he credits the upswing to Murphy, Judge said: "Oh yeah. Definitely."
Judge gives thanks to Murphy for bringing in quarterbacks coach Zack Mills, who helped Judge play the position better. "He's [Murphy] really changed the whole attitude of the team" Judge said. "We're really proud to have him as a coach. Next year, we'll be real good." It's real possible that Judge may be right. The last time a Main Line Inter-Ac team finished 4-7 and had a successful season the following year was Malvern Prep. The Friars went 4-7 in 1993 only to bounce back in 1994, finishing 7-3-1. Malvern has only had two losing seasons since then. Haverford may emulate that feat. "I always tell [my players] that 'I'm already on to next year and working,' and that's what I expect from them," Murphy said. "We continue to get more talented each year and develop from there."
"We want to win every football game. We're looking at our preseason before the league next year as an opportunity to prepare us to be more competitive in the league." Michael Murphy, Haverford School Coach. Asked if he became a better quarterback under Murphy, Judge said: "Definitely." In order to have a championship football team, having a good quarterback is where it starts. The Fords seem to have a talented quarterback in Judge and a coach eager to win in Murphy. Good quarterback + good coach= a winning football team.
The future indeed looks bright.