Haverford running back Kevin Leyden, right, runs into the end zone for a score with Harriton’s Reese Shepard following.
Haverford running back Kevin Leyden, right, runs into the end zone for a score with Harriton's Reese Shepard following. (Robert J. Gurecki)

HAVERFORD — Somewhere on the list of useful football philosophies is the notion of dink and dunk, of ball-control, of grind-it-out, take-your-time small ball.

Then there is the other kind, the kind that Haverford High coach Joe Gallagher has come to prefer — and the kind that led to a 31-6 triumph over visiting Harriton Friday and a hint that the Fords could yet be a Central League issue.

The haymaker: Throw it.

"We need explosive plays,' Gallagher said. "Our deal right now is to play great defense and our playmakers have to make big plays. And that was the game tonight.'

Haverford running back Jai Thornton is about to make a reception during a game with Harriton.
Haverford running back Jai Thornton is about to make a reception during a game with Harriton. (Robert J. Gurecki)

In improving to 2-2 and 2-1 in the Central League, the Fords scored touchdowns of 47, 65 and 44 yards to frolic in a game that, in its earliest stages at least, had a scent of parity. Kevin Leyden rushed for 180 yards and touchdowns of 65, 44 and, yes, 1 yard. And as much as he mattered when he had the ball, it was one time that he didn't that he might have mattered even more.

That was when, in the first quarter, Gallagher ordered both Leyden and quarterback John Kim into punt-return formation, aware of the trend for opponents to kick the ball anywhere but to where Leyden was positioned. That's when Kim took the kick, sprinted 47 yards down the left sideline, gave the Fords an early lead and foreshadowed the big-play barrage to come.

The quarterback? Returning punts?

"John Kim is a dynamic kid,' Gallagher said. "He is that good of an athlete that he has to be back there, along with Kevin.'

Kim's TD, the late 1-yard burst from Leyden and a 25-yard Evan Boyce field goal gave the Fords a 17-0 lead at halftime, enough to imply Haverford control, yet close enough to keep the Rams involved. But Harriton, which dipped to 1-4 and 1-3 in the Central League, never did find a flow, being penalized 14 times for 120 yards, scoring only with 9:26 to play on a two-yard Miron Hayes run.

Haverford quarterback John Kim scrambles for yardage against Harriton.
Haverford quarterback John Kim scrambles for yardage against Harriton. (Robert J. Gurecki)

"We picked a bad time to play our worst game,' said Harriton coach Justin Mellor. "We didn't block very well. We didn't tackled very well. We didn't coach very well. It just wasn't a very good night all around.

"Now, we have only one choice. We have to rebound and we are going to go forward. We have a nice week planned, with a lot of festivities for Lower Merion. So the only choice we have is to go play the next game.'

With their second consecutive Central League victory, the Fords can start to consider more longer-term achievements.

"We are starting to play well,' Leyden said. "Things are starting to click for us now.'

The Fords hit hard on defense ... and continue to make staggering plays on offense.

Harriton’s Andre Pendleton (13) breaks a tackle from Haverford’s John Kim.
Harriton's Andre Pendleton (13) breaks a tackle from Haverford's John Kim. (Robert J. Gurecki)

"We knew we would be a work in progress coming into the season,' Gallagher said. "We knew we had good offensive players. But we also knew we lost four starting offensive linemen, two All-Central receivers and a first-time All-Delco quarterback. So those losses are not always easy to overcome. We perfectly understood that.

"We knew we were a work in progress. And we still are. We are getting better, though.'

For that, Gallagher will attempt to work on the fringes. Until then, he will enjoy the Fords' instant-offense potential.

"We are working hard,' Kim said. "We are playing as a team, enjoying the game, loving the game and playing hard. No one knows what will happen, but if we work hard enough, good things can happen for us.'

Harriton quarterback Matt Brannau, left, tries to escape the clutches of Haverford defensive lineman Stephen Pierce.
Harriton quarterback Matt Brannau, left, tries to escape the clutches of Haverford defensive lineman Stephen Pierce. (Robert J. Gurecki)

One explosive play at a time.