HAVERFORD — The Fords have a mantra to get through the tough weeks, whether it's preparing for winless Lower Merion or undefeated Garnet Valley.
"There was an article about Brian Dawkins a few years back where he was quoted as saying ' I only know how to play the game one way,'' Fords coach Joe Gallagher said. "We cut out the picture and posted it over a sign that says ' One Way' in our locker room.'
Facing a Lower Merion team that has yet to win this season posed a unique challenge for the Fords, whose de facto league championship game looms a week away. But by playing that "one way' — hard, aggressive football — Haverford cruised to an easy 49-0 victory to alleviate any fears of a letdown.
Filling in for injured all-county running back Kevin Leyden, Jai Thornton rushed for 84 yards and two scores in the first half on only six carries. Sophomore quarterback Jack Donaghy threw for two touchdown passes, one each to Alex Drum and Jack McClernon, and Chris Lyons added another rushing score to bring a 35-0 lead into halftime. Haverford took every first-half snap in Aces territory. On defense, the Fords held Lower Merion to minus-13 yards of total offense and zero first downs through two quarters of play.
"It was very important for us to get off to the great start,' Gallagher said. "We wanted to get a lead and come out of the game healthy, which thankfully we did.'
Senior captain Drum added: "We wanted to get some reps and get out.'
Haverford's second stringers produced two touchdown drives in the second half, each finished off by junior halfback D.J. Diakite. The backups gave the starters some needed rest, while also providing some positive moments of their own. The depth in talent bodes well for a team with title aspirations.
"It shows we have good kids to step it up,' Drum said. "If someone goes down, we have guys who can fill in.'
On the other side of the result, Lower Merion continues to suffer through a difficult season. The 49-0 defeat was the Aces' fourth shutout loss on the year. Despite the adversity, Lower Merion's attitude hasn't wavered in the face of imminent defeat. Senior fullback and linebacker Jack Garton has seen nearly every snap of the tumultuous campaign, and yet he remains remarkably positive.
"The seniors were going hard to the end [Friday night],' Garton said. "It's our last experience under the lights. Regardless of the result, it's special.'
Garton's message to his younger teammates was simple and profound.
"Don't lose sight of tomorrow,' he said. "But don't lose sight of today either. You have to appreciate the moments.'
As for Haverford, they now look forward to their showdown with Garnet Valley.
"After we lost to Penncrest, we knew we couldn't falter,' Gallagher said. "Our goal coming in was to win the Central League. We've given ourselves a chance.'
Drum hopes the momentum from Friday night carries over to next week.
"We want to replicate our success from tonight [next week]. It's a playoff game,' Drum said, the competitive flare growing in his eyes. "We'll stay focused all week and prepare.'