A TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE
By Michael Bradley, ‘79
For 13 long years, the drought had endured. There was a tie. But there was little more. Hill School had used Haverford as its personal tackling dummy, and there hadn’t been anything the Maroon and Gold could do in response.
From 1902-14, the marauders from Pottstown had roughed up Haverford by a combined score of 218-18. Included were two losses in 1905. When a 0-0 tie (“accomplished” in ’02) is high-water mark for success, there isn’t so much a rivalry between two teams as there is a harassment.
But in 1915, things were different. A close – 14-9 – loss to Hill the previous season had provided hope that victory was at last nigh. And, indeed, on the final day of the season – a clear, 57-degree Tuesday in November – Haverford broke through, roughing up the visitors, 17-6, to complete a perfect, 6-0 season.
The triumph was commemorated with speeches and a dinner that celebrated the mighty team and its exploits. Haverford had outscored its half-dozen victims 132-9, pitched four shutouts and walloped Episcopal, 27-3. Students rejoiced, and the team basked in the adulation.
Nearly 100 years later, big gridiron wins remain occasions for festive observance at Haverford. Each time Episcopal is laid low, there is much rejoicing. A triumph over Malvern is greeted with a ferocious emotional catharsis. And beating the rest of the Inter-Ac community isn’t so bad, either.
As Haverford begins its 125th season of football, it is an occasion to look back on the great moments, heroic competitors and legendary coaches that form a rich tapestry of the sport at the school. There have been championship seasons, all-league standouts and tremendous runs of prosperity. Of course, there have been some dark times, too, when evil forces conspired to rob the program of the resources and support necessary for success. But like any great institution, Haverford football has endured, thrived and overcome. Its history is rich. Its successes are many. And though big wins, like the Fords’ 1918 triumph over Hill, are no longer celebrated with bonfires and snake dances through campus, they deserve to be recognized today.
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The record shows that Haverford’s first official football game was played in 1887 and resulted either in a 70-0 or a 90-0 loss to Hill.
That record should be burned.
Or, at least, the page should be turned quickly, because one year later, Haverford joined the two-year old Inter-Ac League, which had been started in ’86 by Penn Charter and Germantown Academy and also included Episcopal, Cheltenham Military, Delancey School (which was absorbed into EA in 1915) and Rugby, and moved quickly toward prosperity.
In fact, with wins over Rugby, Delancey (forfeit) and EA (forfeit) Haverford entered its season-ending games with powerhouses GA and Charter atop the Inter-Ac standings. Game day with the Patriots dawned rainy but cleared for kickoff, and the fast track helped Haverford to a 40-12 rout in a decision that was easier than expected and was keyed by four touchdowns by Alden Arthur Knipe. A week later, the elements did play a large role, as a sloppy track hurt Haverford’s ground game, and PC earned a 24-0 triumph. Somehow, GA skunked Penn Charter, and Haverford ended up tied for the league crown with the two schools. Not a bad debut at all.
Haverford needed only three years to capture its second Inter-Ac title. The Walter Thayer-captained squad won the league outright, one year after only a 22-0 loss to Penn Charter prevented the Fords from winning it. It was hard to imagine the 1890 team won any games at all (it finished 4-2, with its other loss to the University of Pennsylvania freshmen and a 54-0 skunking of EA in a “practice game” included with the wins), much less found itself in position to capture a league crown. The average age of the team was 15.7 years, and the median player weight was a bantam-sized 143 pounds. Even for the late 19th century, that was small.
There was not much prosperity for Haverford in the last decade of the 19th century, and the school did not find itself on top of the Inter-Ac again until 1902, when a mighty aggregation rolled to an 8-0-2 record, outscoring opponents by a remarkable 210-0. Only 0-0 ties with Hill and GA provided smudges on the otherwise pristine record. The scoreless deadlock with Hill came in the season’s second game on a field made virtually unplayable by rain and mud.
Against GA, Haverford had the ball on the Patriots’ one-yard line at the close of the first half but couldn’t score and advanced into Germantown territory on several occasions after intermission but couldn’t close the deal. Still, the 1902 team remains the only unscored-upon unit in school history and is certainly worthy of its inclusion in the Athletic Hall of Fame.
The 1903 and ’04 squads posted combined 15-5 records, and the ’04 team won the championship, but there was some trouble brewing. Eligibility rules were quite lax at both the collegiate and prep levels during the early days of the 20th century. In fact, some college teams included players who were in their sixth years of undergraduate “study”. Haverford was not immune from this, as the historical report written by James Zug, ’87 reveals. Headmaster Charles Crosman was upset by “a scandal about over-age football players” and after the 1906 season, Haverford left the Inter-Ac.
An aside, also provided by Zug: Part of Crosman’s consternation regarding football could have arisen from the damage to the roof of “The Oaks”, an on-campus building that was consumed in flames when Crosman himself launched a “fire balloon” to celebrate the 1904 championship. Perhaps it was all too much for the venerable headmaster, who was battling heavy financial burdens and struggling to handle a school that had grown exponentially from its humble beginnings as the Haverford College Grammar School in 1884.
The time between 1905-20 was not a particularly robust one for Haverford, largely because of its self-imposed Inter-Ac exile. There were some undeniable highlights, like the 1913 season, which opened with six straight shutouts, followed by a 67-6 drubbing of Delancey. But a 13-0 loss to Hill stopped the fun. Of course, 1915 was highlighted by the big win over Hill. And Episcopal was largely powerless against the Fords, losing seven games from 1913-20 (the schools didn’t play in 1918 due to the flu pandemic) by a combined score of 114-6.
Haverford returned to the Inter-Ac in 1921 and finished second, behind Penn Charter. Its 7-2 victory over Episcopal (what other result were you expecting?) was its first league contest since 1904. Led by Sam Ewing, a 2012 Athletic Hall of Fame inductee who accumulated 13 letters in six sports during his time at Haverford, the Fords dumped EA, St. Luke’s (which was in the Inter-Ac from 1921-26), GA and Hill to finish the year 4-2. It was a strong emergence from the shadows and would serve as a harbinger of a period of sustained success that would last into the early 1950s.
Although Bill Crowell’s tenure was a scant four seasons – 1925-28 – it was certainly prosperous. Haverford won a pair of Inter-Ac titles during his time, including the outright championship in ’25. It was the school’s first since ’04 and was accomplished with a 14-man team that averaged 157.7 pounds per man. But that didn’t stop the Fords from allowing a mere six points in its five league wins. Highlights included a 43-6 pasting of Episcopal and a win over Germantown Academy in two inches of snow. Haverford outscored its rivals that year, 202-18 and returned to a seat of power in the league in a resounding way.
Fans of irony will appreciate that Haverford shared the ’26 crown with St. Luke’s, which was coached by Doc Wallace. Three years later, Wallace would take over at Haverford and win or share 11 Inter-Ac crowns during a legendary 28-year career. The 1926 squad opened the league campaign with a 26-0 whitewashing of EA and then rallied in the final three minutes to subdue Penn Charter, 20-13. But a narrow, 16-13 loss to GA spoiled the chance for a repeat of Inter-Ac perfection, and after a season-ending rout of CHA, the Fords settled for a tie atop the six-team configuration with St. Luke’s.
Crowell’s last two seasons at Haverford (combined record 4-8-1) weren’t as prosperous as his first two (10-3-2), and Wallace took over in 1929. Born in 1893 in Church Hill, MD, Frederick Renshaw Wallace was a slight (5-6, 135 pounds) man but a fine athlete who actually played two games at shortstop for the Phillies in 1919 (1 hit in four tries – a single; three putouts, four assists, one error), after spending three years at Washington College in Chestertown, MD. He coached at St. Luke’s from 1921-26, compiling a 27-17-5 record and tying Haverford for the championship in ’26.
His impact on the football program was immediate. After winning just two Inter-Ac games total in 1927-28, Haverford was 3-3 in the league in ’29. Two years later, led by bruising Fred Babcock and team captain Sumner “Ippy” Rulon-Miller, Haverford finished 5-1 in the league and captured the crown. Haverford squeezed past Penn Charter and GA by 7-0 scores, with Rulon-Miller scoring the deciding TD in each, and blanked Friends Central (which was in the Inter-Ac on and off from 1910-48), 6-0 – again on a Rulon-Miller touchdown. Rulon-Miller’s TD pass was the decider in Haverford’s 13-7 triumph over Episcopal, and only a season-ending, 16-7 loss to Chestnut Hill spoiled a perfect, 8-0 campaign. Still, Haverford took advantage of a CHA tie with Germantown Academy to secure the crown for ’31 and define the decade ahead.
The Fords won four more championships under Wallace in the ‘30s, securing outright titles in 1935, ’36 and ’37 and tying for the top spot in ’38. The 1935 team was led by Joe “Crisco” Potts and posted a 6-1-1 overall mark in sharp new uniforms provided by the Alumni Association. The squad dropped its opener to Frankford, 7-0, and did not allow another point for the remainder of the season. Alas, a scoreless tie with Friends Central prevented a pristine league performance but didn’t prevent Haverford from finishing on top.
The 1936 aggregation wasn’t as stingy, but it posted a 4-0 Inter-Ac mark. (CHA had left the league.) Potts threw a pair of touchdown passes in each of the wins over EA (14-7) and GA (20-6) and caught a scoring strike against the Patriots. The Wallace reign of terror continued the next season, when Haverford shrugged off an 0-1-1 start to win the league. Bill McCoy was the standout, accounting for both scores (TD pass, run) in a 13-7 win over GA and rushing for two touchdowns in the 26-0 triumph over Penn Charter on a sloppy track. A surprising 6-6 tie with a mediocre Friends Central outfit left the Inter-Ac record at 3-0-1.
The 1938 title required some mathematical gymnastics. Haverford finished league play with a 2-0-2 mark, tying Friends Central and PC, while GA was 3-1. Somehow, the league fathers decided those marks were congruent, and a tie was declared atop the standings. There was no need for advanced ciphering in 1940. Haverford lost to Episcopal, despite outgaining the Churchmen by a large margin, but beat GA. When the Patriots knocked off EA, there was a three-way deadlock atop the standings and a split championship.
Despite the prosperity of the 1930s, it all seemed to be something of a warm-up for 1944, when the team Wallace deemed his “best ever” rolled to the first undefeated, untied season since 1915. Led by Victor Mauck, who unfurled one of the finest performances in school history, Haverford outscored its opponents 196-21, with a unit that averaged 162 pounds per man. Mauck was the scourge of the local gridiron scene, rushing for 11 scores, throwing for nine others and returning a kick for six points to account for 126 points. He scored in every game but one and earned notice from Philadelphia’s Maxwell Club for his exploits.
The undeniable non-league highlight was Haverford’s 7-6 upset over Philadelphia Public League powerhouse Northeast, which was accomplished when Carl Mann stole the ball from a Viking player and dashed 79 yards for a touchdown. Fritz Thornton’s point-after provided the margin of victory. Mauck and Harry Yarrow scored in the Fords’ 14-0 whipping of EA, Haverford’s first triumph over its rival in six years. Mauck threw five TD passes and ran for another score in the 45-9 rout of Penn Charter and then rushed for a TD and returned a kick 80 yards for six points to lead Haverford to a 14-6 triumph over Friends Central, capping the perfect campaign.
Haverford backed up its outstanding 1944 with titles the next two seasons. The ’45 team posted a 3-0-1 league record, with only a season-ending tie against Friends Central preventing perfection. The hero of that contest was Yarrow, who despite a 100-degree fever, scored two touchdowns to help Haverford overcome a 13-0 deficit. Another three-way tie concluded the ’46 campaign. Haverford finished 7-1 but dropped a 13-6 decision to EA and settled for a shared crown with the Churchmen and Friends Central.
The 1950s dawned with a new rival joining the Inter-Ac confederation, Malvern Prep. And in 1951, it took a late first-half TD pass from Bill Burns to John Freney and Buster Dillon’s point-after to secure a 7-6 triumph over the Friars. That and a 14-12 season-ending thriller over EA secured the outright Inter-Ac crown for the Fords. Against Episcopal, a 73-yard kickoff return for a score by Dillon over came a second-half deficit and gave Haverford the title.
Wallace celebrated his 25th year as head coach by grabbing a share of the 1953 championship. Only a heartbreaking 7-6 loss to Episcopal in the finale prevented the Fords from making the season perfect. It was Wallace’s final title. After the 1956 season, the 63-year old mentor stepped away from the sport. His final mark of 131-66-19 remains the gold standard for Haverford coaches. How successful was he? Well, if you add up the wins at the school by the second (Ed Baker, 49), third (Mike Mayock, 49) and fourth (Mike Murphy, 34) winningest mentors at Haverford, they surpass Wallace by one triumph. Not bad at all.
One season after Wallace retired, Baker arrived on campus to serve as football coach and AD. During his nine seasons at Haverford, Baker compiled a winning percentage of .681 and won three outright championships. His first came in 1961, when he led the Fords to their first perfect campaign in 17 years. Haverford began the season with a stunning, 6-0 win at Frankford. That was quite an accomplishment, considering the Fords had finished 1960 1-6-1 and winless in the Inter-Ac, and mighty Frankford was coming off a 9-2 campaign that included the Public League title.
That set the tone for the season. Haverford whipped through its non-conference schedule and made its Inter-Ac debut with a 13-6 triumph over Penn Charter, its first win over the Quakers in seven years. After dumping Malvern, 23-7, and GA, 53-7, the Fords closed out their perfect year with a 13-6 triumph over Episcopal. Haverford outscored its rivals 160-25 and outgained them 2,246-992. Bill Reeves (689 yards, 7 scores) and Bill Smith (540, 7) keyed the ground attack, while Ed Stringer led the team with 37 tackles and earned the Crowell Award as the city’s top player. It was a remarkable team effort, and it would be repeated four years later.
Not that the ’64 outfit was anything to look past. The Fords finished 5-0 in the Inter-Ac (Chestnut Hill had returned) and 7-1 overall, losing only to eventual Public League champ Frankford, 8-0, in the season’s curtain raiser. From there, it was perfection. Led by Scott MacBean, the school’s first-ever, three-time, first-team all-Inter-Ac choice, and rugged lineman Bob Crozer, Haverford whipped Penn Charter, 7-0, to start the league campaign. MacBean and Don Wilkins scored in the 14-12 nail-biting win over GA, and the season closed with a 28-3 drubbing of EA to give Baker his second crown.
As good as that season was, ’65 was better. Haverford finished 8-0 and ended the season on a 15-game winning streak. Three of those triumphs came over Public League powers. The Fords opened the year with a 19-0 win over defending Pub champ Frankford, whipped Central, which would tie for the ’65 title, 20-14, and dumped Lincoln, 14-6.
Inter-Ac play featured only one frightening moment, and that came against Malvern. But MacBean scored on a 70-yard TD run with 2:00 to play to secure a 13-6 triumph. Haverford blanked GA, 19-0, and overcame CHA, 27-18, before closing the season with a 48-0 frolic over Episcopal in which eight players scored TDs. MacBean won the Crowell Award as Philadelphia’s best prep player, and Buzzy Potts rushed for 410 yards and scored six TDs.
Baker left after the 1966 season to take the head coaching job at Kalamazoo College, a job he held uninterrupted until 1983. (He returned to coach the ’88 and ’89 seasons). He is second all-time in wins at the school – 62 – but was never able to replicate the success he had at Haverford and did not win a league title.
He was succeeded by Jim Auch, who had spent the 1964 and ’65 seasons at Malvern. Auch remained at Haverford for three campaigns and lifted the Fords to a share of the title in 1968. The season dawned with wins over Frankford, Archbishop Carroll and Central, which was the defending Public League champ. After dropping a 20-18 decision to Penn Charter, Haverford dumped Malvern (20-14), GA (21-14) and CHA (42-13) to set up a season-ending showdown with previously undefeated Episcopal.
It wasn’t a contest. Haverford stomped EA, 35-9, to spoil the Churchmen’s dreams of perfection and jump into a tie with them for the Inter-Ac title. It was a great ending to a season that featured a 1,016-yard rushing performance by John Gallagher and 512 yards from John Stoviak, along with 60 tackles from linebacker Steve Del Viscio.
Auch’s departure after the 1969 season (to become an assistant at West Chester; he later took over the EA program and won three titles) led to the hiring of Mike Mayock, who had coached at Malvern from 1956-62 – and directed the Friars to their first Inter-Ac title, in ’62 (a tie with PC) – and then oversaw Penn’s offensive line. He arrived to find a team that didn’t have great depth but was filled with talent. And when QB Bill Osborne, a grade-school standout from Downingtown, decided to attend Haverford, Mayock had the final piece of a team that would embark on a two-year run that was the finest in school history.
The ’70 season began with a 14-12 win over Central High on a sweltering day that mandated the shortening of quarters from 12 to 10 minutes, the better to preserve the players’ health. Osborne’s five-yard TD run brought the Fords back from a five-point deficit and set the tone for the season. Haverford rampaged through its next three opponents by a combined score of 140-20 but trailed Malvern, 6-0, in the fourth quarter when defensive end Jim Nesbitt picked off a Friar pass and returned it to the Malvern 20. Two plays later, Osborne hit Nesbitt with a scoring pass and offensive tackle Art Garwood nailed the PAT to give Haverford a 7-6 triumph. From there, it was easy work. Haverford throttled the rest of the league to cap its perfect, 8-0 season.
Eight Fords were named first-team all-Inter-Ac, and Haldeman was named the league’s MVP. That made sense, since Haldeman gained 1,076 yards, scored 21 TDs and averaged 9.1 yards per carry.
The 1970 season was great, but the ’71 outfit was completely dominant. To get an idea of how good Haverford was that season, consider that the Fords scored at least four TDs in the first half of every game. Had Mayock not substituted liberally during the final two quarters of each contest, his squad would have hung half a hundred on every team.
The only drama came before the opener with Cardinal O’Hara. Thought to be the best team in the area and favored by some by as many as three touchdowns, the Lions had great advance praise. On the field, however, not so much. Haverford scored on the first play of the game, intercepted eight O’Hara aerials and coasted to a 34-20 triumph.
No other team came within three TDs of the Fords. Haverford, which switched from the I formation to the Delaware Wing-T before the season, amassed 2,949 yards in eight games and averaged 9.0 yards per play. Each run average 8.4 yards, and every Osborne completion accounted for 21.7. Haverford forced 33 turnovers and surrendered a touchdown or less to six rivals. It was a remarkable season that culminated in the naming of nine players to the All-Inter-Ac first team. Haldeman was again the league MVP and became just the second Ford to achieve first-team honors three times and the school’s first and only Inter-Ac Player of the Decade. Running back/linebacker Peter Lindquist, whom Mayock said “had all kinds of talent, was tough as nails, could fly and was as cool as a cucumber,” completed his trifecta in 1972.
Haverford slid from the top the next few years but finished second in 1975 and narrowly missed the league title when a late comeback in the rain and mire at Malvern fell short. The star of that team was Mike Mayock Jr., a three-time all-Inter-Ac first-teamer and future NFL performer.
One season later, Mayock Sr. retired from coaching, and the end of his tenure signaled the beginning of a dark time for Haverford football that would last for three decades.
Although there were some worthy coaches and talented players throughout the program over that period, a crushing lack of institutional support torpedoed efforts to build a winning enterprise. Selfish, malicious forces within the school conspired to influence – or, in some cases, support – administrative decisions to prevent football from growing powerful again on campus. A school that had enjoyed 19 championships over a period of 46 years (1925-71) did not wear another Inter-Ac crown until 2009. Some poor decisions were no doubt a part of that, but the administration’s repeated unwillingness to do what it took to win was obvious and offensive.
That changed when Dr. Joe Cox decided to become actively involved in the selection of Haverford’s new coach, following the 2004 season. His influence and commitment signaled a new era for the Fords. And after working through three formative years, coach Mike Murphy began to build momentum. His 2008 team finished 7-3 and tied for second in the league. In ’09, Haverford broke through. It defeated Malvern on a last-second field goal by Aron Morgan, giving the Fords their first triumph over the Friars since 1983. On the season’s last day, Haverford whipped Episcopal, while Malvern dumped Chestnut Hill, creating a three-way tie atop the standings and giving the Fords their first Inter-Ac title of any kind since the pristine ’71 campaign.
Murphy’s men backed that up with a truly remarkable 2010 campaign. Haverford struggled with a fierce collection of non-conference opponents and was unable to prevail against any of them. But the difficult early stretch prepared the Fords well for Inter-Ac rigors. Haverford dispatched Penn Charter and Germantown Academy easily and then dumped Chestnut Hill to avenge the previous season’s bitter over-time loss. After overcoming Malvern for the second straight year, Haverford closed the season with a victory over Episcopal to complete a perfect 5-0 league campaign and become the first Inter-Ac team to win the championship after posting a losing record in non-league play since Penn Charter did it in 1919.
With a continued emphasis on excelling on the gridiron, Haverford moves into its future poised for success. The program’s current incarnation is a worthy successor to the champions that came before it and is proof of what can happen when a school uses its vast resources in pursuit of great things.