Michael Murphy had seen a different Wyatt Benson in Haverford School's first six games. Benson had committed to Temple during the summer, the result of years of hard work by the West Philadelphia native.
But the Haverford School football coach said he has needed to push Benson in his senior season. The stakes of the game had changed and Benson did too.
"I don't want to say by any stretch he gave anything less during practice or games, I just think in his mind, it was a different hunger," Murphy said. "You're playing to win, but you're not playing for your life. I hate to use that analogy, but a full ride for a kid like Wyatt is a big deal."
After Saturday's 47-12 rout of Germantown Academy to open the Inter-Ac season for both teams, Murphy said he saw the old Benson.
"[Saturday] was the first time I've really seen him play like the kind of player I think he can be," Murphy said. "He got off to a slow start this year. A lot of press, but [Saturday] was the day he played like the kid we expect him to be."
At middle linebacker, Benson anchored a Fords defense that allowed 51 first-half yards to the Patriots as Haverford School jumped out to a 28-6 halftime lead.
At running back, Benson scored twice. The first was a rumbling, 13-yard run over a few Germantown Academy would-be tacklers. The second was a 15-yard score off a screen pass from Matt Lengel when again, Benson used his 6-foot-1, 220-pound frame to bulldoze into the end zone.
Benson could play either linebacker or fullback for Al Golden's Owls next season. But for now, he is a key component in Haverford School's quest to win its first Inter-Ac title in 38 years.
After what Murphy saw on Saturday, he's a bit more encouraged about those chances.
"I saw a different aggressiveness out of him," Murphy said of Benson. "He's been trying to be too technical on the defensive side of the ball. [On Saturday], he saw it, he read it, and he got out there and he played. I think it made us a much better football team."