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High School Football Top Ten: A Look At Haverford Vs. Harriton

Haverford High coach Joe Gallagher (credit: Joseph Santoliquito)

Haverford High coach Joe Gallagher (credit: Joseph Santoliquito)

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Southeastern PA Top 10

Week of Sept. 27, 2013

1. Coatesville (Record: 4-0. Weeks Rated: 5.)

2. Archbishop Wood (Record: 4-0. Weeks Rated: 5.)

3. Imhotep Charter (Record: 3-0. Weeks Rated: 5.)

4. St. Joseph’s Prep (Record: 2-1. Weeks Rated: 5.)

5. Neshaminy (Record: 4-0. Weeks Rated: 5.)

6. Pennridge (Record: 4-0. Weeks Rated: 5.)

7. La Salle (Record: 3-1. Weeks Rated: 5.)

8. Abington (Record: 4-0. Weeks Rated: 1.)

9. Episcopal Academy (Record: 4-0. Weeks Rated: 3.)

10. Archbishop Ryan (Record: 4-0. Weeks Rated: 2.)

By Joseph Santoliquito

Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — They go back together to the “sowing room” days, back to the bleak times when they shared a two-year 1-and-22 stretch and nothing was going right. It’s when Haverford High School head coach Joe Gallagher and assistant coach Justin Mellor would retreat to the sowing room because it had the best white board in the school at that time and they had to draw up new plays.

Tonight, mentor and pupil will oppose each other, when Gallagher’s Haverford Fords hosts Mellor’s Harriton Rams in a Central League football game at Haverford High School at 7 p.m.

It marks the first time Gallagher, the long-time Fords coach and St. James legend, will be facing one of his former assistant coaches. Mellor coached under Gallagher for 15 years at Haverford, the last 12 as defensive coordinator, helping the Fords reach the PIAA District 1 Class AAAA playoffs for the first time in school history.

This is Mellor’s first time as a head coach, and he made sure to bring some former Haverford players he coached along with him. Dave Barr is a former Ford who is Mellor’s defensive coordinator, Ryan Dabney is the running back’s coach and Gino Petrasso handles the offensive line.

It’s taken Mellor some adjusting to go from Haverford red to Harriton red.

“I’m pretty entrenched where I am now, but it will be pretty interesting,” said Mellor, who now teaches at Harriton. “I saw myself watching the Haverford tape against Penncrest and I was looking at it from the Haverford side, yelling they could have done a better job. I had to refocus a few times. Those are kids, the seniors, who I’ve coached for three years. There is a deep bond there. I’m rooting for them every game except one, when they play us.

“Joe Gal gave me every opportunity I ever had. That whole Haverford staff are like my brothers; those are my boys. You don’t just forget 15 years because you move down the road.”

The strange thing is Mellor will be on the opposite sideline. He’s never been in the visitor’s locker room at Haverford.

“It’s going to be weird, but I’m looking forward to it,” Mellor said. “I didn’t realize that my kids knew we were going to Haverford this week. The kids are pretty cranked up. We’ll preach the same things, try to play all the plays the best you can. But it will be emotional afterward. If it wasn’t for Haverford and Coach Gal, I wouldn’t be where I am now.”

Gallagher put it best, when he said, “Honestly, it’s like one of your family members leaves. They’ll always be part of the family. Justin was like my left arm for 12 years. We went through the worst of times and the best of times. We’ve been there from the 1-11 season to going to the district playoffs. We’re all going out afterwards, win or lose. There is a bond there, a huge bond. When the game begins, that takes over and you lose sight of it. Otherwise, I root for Justin every week; I want him to do well. I’m very proud of Justin.”

Game of the Week

La Salle at Archbishop Ryan, Saturday, 1 PM. We get to see if Ryan is for real or not. Ryan is undefeated and begins Philadelphia Catholic League Class AAAA play outscoring its four nonleague opponents by 186-37. La Salle has faced far better opposition and will be led by junior quarterback Kyle Shurmur, who threw three TDs and 280 yards in the muck last week during a 23-17 victory over Inter-Ac power Malvern Prep. Ryan will counter with a nice speedy duo of Bobby Romano and Samir Bullock.

Prediction: La Salle 27, Ryan 24

Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.

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