Haverford School out to make a point
HAVERFORD - Wyatt Benson put points on the board Saturday afternoon. A few years down the line, he may go to the memory bank and dig up his 60-yard interception return for a touchdown. For the time being, The Haverford School junior would rather brag about what he and the rest of the Fords defenders accomplished as a unit against Monsignor Bonner.
Using a goal-line stand in the fourth quarter to cap a stellar performance, the Fords' defense came up with all the big plays necessary to claim a 19-0 nonleague victory over the Friars in a game that was much closer than the score indicated. "We had a goal to put up goose eggs," Benson said. "We did not want them to score. We remembered what happened against (Cardinal) O'Hara earlier this year. We stopped them on the goal line. So if we could stop O'Hara down there, we knew we could stop these guys." Benson led an effort that helped the Fords improve to 4-1 as they enter their Inter-Academic League schedule.
A 4-7 team a season ago, the Fords are off to their best start since 2003. The blemish on their record was a 7-0 setback to O'Hara in Week 2. O'Hara has yet to lose and remains a contender to conquer District 12. It would be difficult to call The Haverford School a contender to win the Inter-Ac, since Malvern Prep has established itself as one of the premier teams in the state. However, if Malvern slips up in one of its five league games, it had better hope it doesn't happen against the Fords.
With Richmond-bound quarterback Dan Judge leading the way, the Fords' offense has the potential to be lethal. Wide receiver AJ Jones and running back Terance Fitzsimmons have shown that they can break big plays. Saturday Jones had a touchdown on a play in which he hauled in a pinpoint, 26-yard strike from Judge in the first quarter. In the fourth quarter, Fitzsimmons finalized the scoring when he broke loose off the left tackle and scampered 62 yards for a touchdown. Fitzsimmons wouldn't have scored had it not been for the defense. The Fords' last scoring drive, which totaled 99 yards, was set up by the goal-line stand.
The series that ceased at The Haverford School's 1-yard line was the Friars' second-to-last drive of the game. Between that drive and the previous one, Bonner (1-5, 0-2 Catholic League AAAA) totaled 123 yards. The first of those drives ended when Fords linebacker Shomari Watts sacked Bonner quarterback Brendan Gutierrez on the home team's 24-yard line. The second ended with 4:54 left in the game, when Gutierrez couldn't plunge into the end zone from a yard out. "If you can find every person I talked to this week, they said to me, 'Easy one this week, Murph,'" Fords coach Mike Murphy said. "But they were sorely mistaken. (Bonner) is a tough, tough football team and it took a dogfight to beat them."
Junior running back Eric Petransky finished with 95 yards on 21 carries for the Friars, while Gutierrez went 10-of-17 for 112 yards and the interception. On the turnover, Gutierrez rolled to his right and looked to the flat. He fired a pass that Benson had his eyes on the whole time. The linebacker picked it off and sprinted untouched for the score. Apparently, that play was like a punch to the gut of the visitors. "When the other team scores, we can't let down," Petransky said. "The last couple years have been tough. And after all this time, when the other team starts scoring, we think we are going to get killed. We just have to believe."
"I don't know the last time Haverford School was 4-1 going into league play," said Judge, who finished 8-of-9 for 103 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions, "but we feel like a steamroller right now."