HAVERFORD — Haverford School was a one-man show Saturday afternoon in its season-opening loss to West Catholic.
Phil Poquie was nasty. The exciting running back took the Fords' first play from the line of scrimmage 88 yards to pay dirt. Later, the junior broke off a 31-yard run and an 11-yard dash for another touchdown. Following an injury-plagued 2012 season, Poquie was on top of his game against the Burrs, and figures to be one of the best running backs in the area this fall.
Outside of Poquie's performance (164 yards on 18 carries), the Fords left Sabol Field with more questions than answers after a sluggish, 26-14 setback.
West Catholic scored the final 20 points of the game after Poquie's second scoring run early in the third quarter. It was all downhill from there for the Fords.
As expected, Haverford School coach Mike Murphy couldn't come up with many bright spots in his post-game interview.
"To be honest, I don't think we played a very good football game,' he said. "It was not the type of football game that we're capable of playing. I thought we had a couple of big plays offensively (but) we're way too reliant on a big play right now. And, in other facets of the game, we didn't do what we set out to do. We didn't sustain any momentum, and we ran 12 football plays in the first offensively. That's not good enough. We didn't get off the field defensively. That's not good enough. We have a lot of things to work on. I know it's early, but we're a long way off. I think (West Catholic) played well and we didn't play our type of football game.'
Things started promisingly for the Fords. The defense was bouncing and tackling well while keeping slash-back Greg White and West's multi-dimensional offense in check for most of the first half. But as Murphy mentioned, the Fords couldn't put together lengthy drives, and their defense faded after halftime despite decent efforts from linebackers L.J. Barlow, Brian Casey and Noah Lejman.
"The team intensity was high, even though it was a tough loss,' Poquie said. "We just need to find a way to stay here — up high — for the entire game.'
The wind was taken out of the Fords' sails the first time the Burrs reached deep into their playbook to pull off the first of two fake punt passes. Patrick Amara — normally a wide receiver — threw a 55-yard pass to a wide-open Ahkril Crumpton for a touchdown, cutting Haverford's lead to a point. Amara (6-2, 190) had quite the day doing a little bit of everything. He also gave the Burrs their first lead when he jumped high to bring down an Andrew McCollum 12-yard pass in the corner of the end zone.
"West Catholic is one of those teams where they have a lot of tricks,' said Poquie, who also racked up nearly 150 yards in return yardage. "They won't line up and run it right at you. They'll have a lot of trick plays and try to do a lot of boots and reverses. They're a very good team, and they had a very good day against us.'
After West Catholic grabbed the lead, 18-14, Poquie took the ensuing kickoff all the way down to the Burrs' 18-yard line. But sloppy execution on offense sent the Fords in the wrong direction, and they would eventually turn the ball over on downs.
White, who along with Archbishop Carroll's Austin Tilghman, is the best returning running back in the Philadelphia Catholic League Class AA Division, had a solid, workmanlike day on the ground, grinding out 104 yards on 28 carries.
For the Fords, one loss is no reason to panic. As is the case every season, they use their nonleague games to prepare for the Inter-Ac portion of their schedule, which remains several weeks away.
"Guys have to step up and want to be involved (on offense),' Murphy said. "Without question, we won't get where we want to get relying on Phil to be the spectacular player that he is. We're a better football team than that, and I don't think that we showed it today.'