Sports

Haverford High Wants To Make More History This Year

Haverford running back Kevin Leyden with Fords' coach Joe Gallagher (Photo by Joseph Santoliquito)

Haverford running back Kevin Leyden with Fords’ coach Joe Gallagher (Photo by Joseph Santoliquito)

Top 10

 Week of Nov. 2, 2012

1. St. Joseph’s Prep (Record: 8-0. Previous Week: 1. Weeks Rated: 7.)

2. La Salle (Record: 8-1. Previous Week: 2. Weeks Rated: 9.)

3. Downingtown East (Record: 9-0. Previous Week: 3. Weeks Rated: 9.)

4. Archbishop Wood (Record: 7-2. Previous Week: 4. Weeks Rated: 9.)

5. Episcopal Academy (Record: 8-0. Previous Week: 8. Weeks Rated: 5.)

6. Imhotep Charter (Record: 9-0. Previous Week: 5. Weeks Rated: 9.)

7. Ridley (Record: 9-0. Previous Week: 6. Weeks Rated: 4.)

8. Coatesville (Record: 7-2. Previous Week: 7. Weeks Rated: 4.)

9. Pennridge (Record: 8-1. Previous Week: 9. Weeks Rated: 3.)

10. Central Bucks South (Record: 8-1. Previous Week: 10. Weeks Rated: 8.) 

By Joseph Santoliquito 

Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — They know the history. They’re aware that Haverford High School has only been to the PIAA District 1 Class AAAA playoffs once in school history, in 2007, and have never won a district playoff game.

They know opposing teams still view their glossy 8-1 record with skepticism—and the Fords are aware they face a mighty though desperate Garnet Valley team Friday night.

But win or lose, the Fords have already clinched a District 1 playoff berth for the second time in school history. They’ve done it with superb skill players like quarterback Eddie Durkin, tailback Kevin Leyden and wide receiver Marcus Sydnor.

Though the real reason why Haverford is where it is, sixth in the district standings and possibly in a position to host the first district playoff game at Haverford, is the offensive front of center Chip Rossino, guards Alex Host and Adrian Carranza, and tackles Pete Kirlin and Dan Tate. It’s also because players like seniors Joe Campli and Shawn Luterman and junior fullback Alex Drum have emerged.

“If everyone comes to play and we keep mental mistakes to a minimum, we feel we can play with anyone,” said Luterman, who came up with a key fumble recovery in last week’s 34-28 victory over Conestoga. “We have chemistry on this team. It helps that everyone knows each other.”

Back in August, no one knew what to expect.

“We had so many unknowns coming into this year,” said Haverford coach Joe Gallagher, who should know a thing or two about winning, as a member of the one of the greatest high school teams that ever played in the Philadelphia area, the 1972 St. James Bulldogs that starred Joe Klecko and Gallagher. “There were so many questions coming into this year, but it’s a real credit to the guys and their work ethic and how they made this year happen.

“I really like this team. I’ve liked all my teams, but this is a group that really found themselves. There is a lot to like because of the way they came through this year. What’s made us 8-1 is the line play on both sides of the ball.”

That’s been unsung players like the offensive line, who hardly had any playing time last year.

“I don’t think anyone expected us to be 8-1, but we felt the talent was there,” Kirlin said. “We play with a chip on our shoulders because some people still don’t think we’re an 8-1 team.”

The Fords know the history. They’re going to be the second Haverford team to play in the district playoffs.

“We talk about that all of the time,” Gallagher said. “We want to be the first that wins a playoff game.”

Playoff Picture

It looks like Downingtown East will be the No. 1 seed in the PIAA District 1 Class AAAA playoffs. The Cougars have never finished a season undefeated, and they’ve never won a district championship in the 10-year existence of the school.

With a high-powered offense led by quarterback Kyle Lauletta and Michigan State-bound receiver Jay Harris, the Cougars will be a tough out.

Ridley, which is undefeated and features one of the best defenses in the area, may stand in their way. It appears the Green Raiders will be the No. 2 seed in District 1 Class AAAA.

The playoff seedings will be official as of Sunday, but here’s a prediction of the top four teams, in the 16-team Class AAAA format, in order: 1. Downingtown East, 2. Ridley, 3. Pennridge, and 4. Central Bucks South. Entering the 10th week of the season, Plymouth-Whitemarsh currently holds the No. 4 spot, averaging 126.76 points.

But a Central Bucks South victory over 5-4 Central Bucks West, a Class AAAA school, could move the Titans past Plymouth-Whitemarsh, which closes its season this weekend against Class AA Springfield (Montco), which is 4-5.

In Class AAA, undefeated Pottsgrove tops the list of the eight-team tournament, followed by either Academy Park or Interboro, two Delaware County Del-Val League schools that are both 8-1 and will meet Friday night to determine not only their league champion but the No. 2 seed in District 1 Class AAA.

In Class AA, the much-anticipated showdown between perennial power West Catholic and Imhotep Charter seems separated by time. Undefeated Imhotep is 9-0 and features running back David Williams, who transferred from West Catholic in the spring when it was feared the school would close. To add more to that subplot, Panthers’ coach Albie Crosby was formerly an assistant at West Catholic under Brian Fluck.

In the Catholic League, the top two teams in the area, nationally ranked St. Joseph’s Prep and La Salle appear headed on another collision course. This time, the stakes will be much higher. Not only will Prep be trying to break La Salle’s four-year reign as Catholic League Class AAAA champs, the winner will most likely be playing for a chance to win the PIAA Class AAAA state championship, something St. Joseph’s Prep has never done.

The one regret is the Inter-Academic League is the only major league not in the PIAA, Pennsylvania’s state high school sports governing body. It’s a shame because Episcopal Academy, which is having one of those season-for-the-ages years, is a Class AA school and could have been a state-title contender.

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