HAVERFORD — His nickname is Choo-Choo, and for good reason. That’s because, when Wyatt Benson picks up enough steam, most quarterbacks don’t want to stand in his way.
They would rather get off the tracks than be mowed down by the 6-1, 220-pound bruising linebacker.
Benson, a broad-shouldered senior at The Haverford School, was a force Saturday afternoon in the Fords’ season opener against Valley Forge Military Academy.
He racked up four tackles for a loss and just as many quarterback hurries in the Fords’ 13-6 victory over the Trojans at the newly dedicated Sabol Field. Benson also scored a first-quarter touchdown.
“The coaches, they like to send me on the blitz,” Benson said, the Temple signee smiling widely. “The guys here call me Choo-Choo. It was me and this guy (senior Billy Annesley). We got through the line a couple times and caused some disruptions that led to a couple sacks.”
As stout as Benson was on defense, Annesley and sophomore Grant Jamogochian were equally as good.
Mostly a third-down defensive back for the Fords, Annesley sacked Valley Forge quarterback Blake Robles three times to stall three different drives. And Jamogochian, a defensive tackle, got into the backfield for five tackles behind the line of scrimmage, including one-and-a-half sacks.
Haverford School coach Mike Murphy’s defense limited the visiting Trojans in the second half to 38 yards of offense and only two first downs. It was a staunch defensive stand that allowed the Fords to sneak away with a Week 1 win on only two touchdowns, both of which were scored within the game’s opening 16 minutes.
“You have two opposite ends of the spectrum with those three players,” Murphy said. “You have two seniors who have really stepped up, in Billy and Wyatt, and that’s what we love about them. And then you have Grant, he’s younger than them. He’s just your typical 6-3 kid who stays low, hits hard and is going to surprise people.”
The Fords got on the board first on the game’s opening possession, which went nine plays. Benson punched into the end zone from six yards out on a fullback draw for a 7-0 lead.
The Trojans, on the subsequent possession, employed a no-huddle offense that made Haverford School’s defense look porous. In that series, Will Holloway brought down a 43-yard pass from Robles, setting up Seth Kuhlman’s 10-yard touchdown run. The extra point sailed wide to keep the Fords ahead, 7-6.
After trading three-and-outs to start the second quarter, Fords senior defensive tackle Max Silver stripped and recovered a ball jarred from the hands of Valley Forge’s Dan Berisha. Six plays later, Haverford School’s Dan Oakley scored the decisive touchdown.
Then, it was up to the defense.
Annesley sacked Robles on a fourth-and-18 in the red zone to kill one of the Trojans’ second-quarter scoring chances. Jamogochian took down Berisha for a loss on a third-and-short later that quarter.
All the while, Benson was slamming into the line of scrimmage from his linebacker spot. When he wasn’t able to penetrate, one of his teammates was.
“When I blitz, it frees up somebody else,” Benson said.