Fords Football is undefeated. Their weekly excellence has produced some of the most raucous student sections in recent memory, and, with EA Day approaching, the season’s excitement has reached its peak. After a series of impressive victories to start the season—most notably a revenge win over LaSalle and a drubbing of Archbishop Wood—the Fords have torn through the Inter-Ac behind a dominant run game and formidable defense. Now boasting a 9-0 record, they hope to assert themselves as the best team in the Inter-Ac.
The Fords’ dominance has come as a shock to many opponents, but according to Head Coach Mr. Brian Martin, they had been aware of this team’s potential for a while.
“It was at the end of last year that we knew we had something special,” Coach Martin said. “We knew we had a good foundation of guys that were coming back that we could build around, and we knew what type of team we were going to be.”
Much of the success has come on the ground, with Fifth Former Matt Brosko totaling over 1000 yards behind a powerful offensive line. Whether they are looking to punch the ball in near the goal line or pick up a crucial first down to ice the game, the Fords know they can put the ball in Brosko’s hands and let the linemen up front pave the way.
“The size, the physicality; in the second half they start wearing people down,” Coach Martin said.
Sixth Former Matt Pante believes their physical strength starts with a winning frame of mind that sets the tone from the first snap.
Don’t take anything for granted, because time flies, and you need to want to be there,Louis Atkinson ’23
“It’s just a mentality going into it: we have that mindset every day that we have to be the most physical unit on the team,” Pante said. “How we go is how the whole team will go.”
The defense has mirrored the physicality of the offensive line, which has yet to give up twenty points this season. The defining game for the defense, and really, the entire team, was the 6-0 win at Malvern Prep.
“We were really confident going into the game, but I think after our performance in that game we kind of proved to ourselves what we were capable of, and now we have a new standard to live up to,” Sixth Former Louie Atkinson said.
In the win, Atkinson made one of the plays of the year with a huge fourth-down tackle to get the ball back late. The win handed Malvern their first loss of the season and gave the Fords a realistic chance at making history. If they manage to topple EA, they will be just the ninth undefeated football team in the school’s history. Though it may be on their minds, the team has not been talking about perfection—just the next game.
“It’s definitely a special group we have, but we’ve been trying to take it week-by-week,” Pante said.
Through all the hype, Fords football has managed to stay focused on the task at hand, a credit to the Sixth Form leadership. Atkinson’s message to the younger players has emphasized embracing the moment.
“Don’t take anything for granted, because time flies, and you need to want to be there,” Atkinson said. “You don’t just want to be on the team to be on the team. You want to be on the team to play and have an impact.”
Strong leadership will be a key factor in Saturday’s matchup, as the players will be under extreme pressure. Their bitter rivals have had an impressive season themselves, also holding an undefeated record.
“EA, for one, is explosive on offense,” Coach Martin said. “They have a lot of weapons, and they’re high-scoring. So we’re going to have to do our best to control and contain that, and on the offensive side we’re going to let our guys do what they’ve always been doing, which is controlling the clock and wearing them down.”
EA recently defeated Malvern Prep 14-11, and their offensive stars have consistently presented challenges to the Inter-Ac’s defenses.
“As most people know, their offense is very explosive,” Pante said. “But we have one of the best defenses in the state, so it should be a really good battle. Offensively we’re just going to try to wear them down to get the win.”
While Pante hopes to keep EA’s offense off the field, Atkinson will have his eyes on two players.
“They have two good threats: T.J. Cadden and T.J. Lamb,” Atkinson said. “Cadden’s a fast kid, kind of their all-purpose guy, and T.J. [Lamb] is good down the field. If everyone does their job and stays true, we should be good to go.”
With intriguing individual matchups across the board, this rivalry showdown has the makings of a classic. The game will be a battle for the Inter-Ac and potentially the sweater, as well as the final time the seniors will suit up as a Ford.
“I’m going to have all the emotions. This is a special place, and the football program here is incomparable,” Pante said. “It’s just such a great group of guys, and I take so much pride in wearing the Haverford uniform.”
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