HAVERFORD — The Haverford School has learned a few valuable lessons in four years under coach Michael Murphy. But there was one particular message delivered by another coach that has renewed the Fords’ focus.
Last week, Super Bowl-winning coach Dick Vermeil spoke to the Fords, who have responded with back-to-back wins, including Friday’s 34-0 shutout of Penn Charter.
Vermeil reminded the players to make the most of every opportunity.
“That talk makes you realize you have to give it your all every time,” quarterback Matt Lengel said, “(and) make sure every play means something.”
The Inter-Ac League victory guaranteed the Fords (6-2, 2-0) an undefeated season at home on Sabol Field. The Fords broke the Quakers’ will in the middle quarters, when the hosts scored four touchdowns in 10 minutes.
Their devotion this week to defending Penn Charter’s passing attack showed. Haverford School squashed the pass-happy Quakers (3-3, 0-2). John Loughery was 17-for-37 with three interceptions.
“We especially wanted to work on that because we knew they like to draw things up to throw it 30 times a game,” said linebacker Wyatt Benson, the team’s captain. “It was just a matter of paying more attention to it.”
As much attention as Penn Charter paid to Benson, he still broke through for a 43-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and was a force on defense. The Temple-bound senior, who rushed four times for 52 yards, enjoys helping his team on both sides of the ball.
Several Fords enjoyed getting the ball as Haverford School had five different players reach the end zone in the game. They added new ingredients to the offense in the second half, when Nick Craig took the third quarter’s first play 97 yards for a touchdown. Craig recorded a team-best 139 yards rushing on nine carries.
“It’s such a breath of fresh air when you get a pair of fresh legs with no dropoff in talent,” senior lineman Max Silver said.
The Fords displayed their depth as the game wore on, with five players running the ball. Additionally, Lengel (11-for-25, 140 yards) completed passes to seven different receivers.
“We really feel like right now we have a lot of weapons on the field,” Murphy said. “We are trying to get it into a bunch of kids’ hands.”
The team had even more at their disposal with the returns of running back Trocon Davis and senior Joe Nassib, the latter leading the team with 39 receiving yards and also contributing in the secondary.
In case Vermeil’s words weren’t heeded, the Fords will experience examples of every play counting in the coming weeks. They close out the season with road games against Malvern Prep, Chestnut Hill Academy and rival Episcopal Academy.
“I don’t see complacency as a problem with this team,” Murphy said. “We were 2-0 at this point last year (in league play) and we still have some things left to accomplish.”