Football Fords fall to Imhotep, look to strengthen “push”

Guard Thomas Barr ’25 in action, last September

On the first Friday night of September, the Fords fell to Imohtep Charter by a score of 35-0. The game was played as a part of the Mid-Atlantic Pigskin Classic, which featured multiple games each day over Labor Day Weekend. 

Despite the final score, the Fords started well against Imhotep, winning the coin toss and electing to defer. After quickly forcing a three-and-out on the Panthers opening drive, the Fords got the ball around midfield. If not for a holding call on a 20-yard rush by Sixth Former Matt Brosko, the Fords would have been near the redzone. 

Ending up behind the sticks meant the Fords had to punt the ball back to Imhotep. The first punt Fourth Former Ian Gopez took as a starter for the Fords was a great one—downing the Panthers inside their own one-yard line. 

In spite of that, the Panthers proceeded to shift the current—walking the ball to midfield before capping the drive off with a 48-yard touchdown pass over the middle of the field. 

The patented “push” the Fords offensive line got last year to contribute to their dominant running game was lacking against Imhotep. 

With Matt Pante and Sean Dugery now in college, the Fords offensive line was weakened coming into the season. This manifested itself in the clear struggles the Fords had to make any gain on first down, which was in deep contrast with last year, where the Fords could consistently pick up four-to-six yards on first down. 

Coach Isdaner issues instruction to the line in a scrimmage against St. Marks, August 26, 2022

Early on, Coach Isander saw the Fords struggle to create holes up the middle of the field—with Imhotep stacking the box heavily. 

The Fords then attempted to start running the ball off tackle, and while they experienced some success, they also at times struggled to seal the edge, losing yards. These struggles on first down put them behind schedule and forced them into constantly uncomfortable third-and-longs with passes from first-year starter Fifth Former Mac Gaffney. The struggles only worsened as the clock crept towards halftime with Imhotep scoring twice in a four-minute span with about six minutes left in the second half.

Down by a margin of three touchdowns at the half, the Fords came out of a delayed halftime and continued to struggle on offense. The Panthers had their second interception of the night about halfway through the third quarter to set up their fourth touchdown of the night. From there on, the Fords continued to struggle to move the ball the rest of the night. 

Imhotep would score once more in the dying embers of the game to win in a convincing fashion.

The Fords ended last year ranked #2, in MaxPreps Pennsylvania football rankings and dropped to #11 in the preseason rankings. With Imhotep’s numerous Power-5-Conference-committed players and strength in depth—they were ranked #2 to begin the season. The Fords losses of All-Inter-Ac defenders Louie Atkinson, Ryan Getz, Wills Burt, and Inter-AC MVP Billy Brosko meant there was always going to be a transitionary period as underclassmen found their footing at the varsity level. 

The Fords ended last year ranked #2, in MaxPreps Pennsylvania football rankings and dropped to #11 in the preseason rankings.

The Fords now look ahead to hosting Academy Park before a visit to La Salle, who dropped their season opener to Malvern 13-7 in Ocean City. 

Playing their traditional ten-game schedule, the Fords will finish out their non-conference action away to Garnet Valley and home to Upper Darby. From there, the Fords will have a bye week to prepare for their conference opener at Germantown followed up by their meeting with Malvern Prep.