By Jeremy Treatman
Haverford can’t worry about what might have been. Instead, the Fords have to focus on a possible championship within their grasps when they host rival Episcopal in the historical 100th meeting between the two schools Saturday being aired live by the Comcast Network and CSNPhilly.com at 3:30 p.m.
After losing 27-21 in overtime in heartbreaking fashion to Chestnut Hill Academy last Saturday, the Fords (7-3, 3-1) still have a chance to win a share of the Inter-Ac title. A Fords win over Episcopal (2-7, 0-4) and a Chestnut Hill loss to Malvern Prep could forge a three-way tie for the championship.
Amazingly, the game marks the third time Episcopal coach Bill Gallagher is immersed in a 100th game. He coached Penn Charter for 25 years and was at the helm in 1986 during the 100th consecutive game between PC and its archrival Germantown Academy. He also lead Penn Charter when it played its 100th game against Episcopal a decade ago.
Now, in his fifth season at EA, Gallagher is ready for history again.
“This is Episcopal’s big rivalry all these years. Haverford means everything,” he said.
Ironically, Haverford coach Mike Murphy was an assistant at EA for eight years before taking over the Fords. Haverford has not won the Inter-Ac since 1971. Chestnut Hill has never won. Malvern can get a share of it in a rebuilding year after back-to-back undefeated seasons.
Despite its poor record, Gallagher thinks Episcopal will be ready for the game. The Churchmen have been decimated by injuries this year. But star running back Brian Ruditys will be playing his second game with a wrapped broken wrist (he caught a touchdown pass with one arm last week), and two-way standouts Jake Butts and Brian Taylor are close to 100 percent after missing 10 games combined to injuries.
“This is the healthiest we have been in a while,” said Gallagher. “But they [Haverford] are an awfully good team.”
The Fords’ best player is Temple recruit fullback/linebacker Wyatt Benson, who had two rushing touchdowns last week on offense and 11 tackles from his middle linebacker spot. Carl Walrath, a talented junior, caught a 53-yard TD against Chestnut Hill a week ago and has rushed for 969 yards on 132 carries on the season. Matt Lengel has established himself as a solid quarterback.
Episcopal’s quarterback Taylor Wright is a little more well-known however, being that he is the son of Villanova hoops coach Jay Wright. Gallagher is hoping that Wright can have a breakout game and use talented wideouts Shane Worell and Jackson Place in a successful passing game. Both teams use pro-set offenses and a 4-3 defense.
“It should be a good game,” said Gallagher.
At the worst, history will be made.
Jeremy Treatman has spent 10 years with Comcast SportsNet and Comcast Network as a high school football and basketball TV announcer. He is also the founder/owner of Sports Broadcasting Camps and the Scholastic Play-By-Play Network.