Football preview: Mahan lends a helping hand to help Haverford get back to winning ways

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HAVERFORD >> Maybe some people think it’s so easy to catch a soccer ball that they can do it with one arm tied behind their back. Ethan Mahan could be there to prove it this season.

Oh, the Haverford High senior isn’t really fit to be tied, it’s just that metaphorically, at least, he thinks it might not be such a bad idea.

“I’m going to run like this,” Mahan said during a recent training session in Haverford, illustrating his point by twisting his arm behind his back.

It wouldn’t be a show, but rather a good protective measure for a left arm that could carry Mahan far in his sports career. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Mahan, after all, is an impressive left-handed pitcher for the Fords in the spring, and recently signed up for a baseball scholarship offer from the University of Rhode Island.

While joking about having to take care of his lucrative member, Mahan is also real enough to know that his left arm should be a big part of his school’s football fortune, bent the right way to win prizes. victories.

Mahan the pitcher is also Mahan the wide receiver for a Haverford offense that could cause major damage in the Central League this fall.

“I think there could be a lot of improvement for us,” said three-year-old Haverford college quarterback Tommy Wright, the one in charge of putting the ball in the crook of Mahan’s left arm. “We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re definitely heading in the right direction, and I think we could be contenders if we keep working, holding our heads up high and sticking together.”

Haverford High quarterback Tommy Wright threw a long pass in practice last week. Wright is back for his third year as a starting QB. (Pete Bannan/MediaNews Group)

The Fords were together enough to forge five wins last season, despite it being a major transition season for them. Longtime head coach Joe Gallagher had resigned and assistant Luke Dougherty was elevated to first place. But the Fords were also in a bit of a rebuilding mode as several Central League rivals had to compete at higher levels.

Nonetheless, the 2021 Fords finished 5-7, managing to keep a District 1 Class 6A playoff streak intact.

“I was proud of that,” Dougherty said. “Overall it was a younger group, and we were just coming out of the COVID year and stuff. Football was different. We were only playing six games (in a limited 2020 season). »

This revamped 2020 season at the start of 2021 wiped out any subsequent training camp work for what became a full 2021 fall season. While the league managed to pull off this one in its entirety, teams in a rebuild like Haverford struggled to compete at the level they could have with a full training camp for young players.

So, for Dougherty’s first year as head coach…

“Expectations have changed a bit for everyone,” he said. “Our seniors now, the last time they had done summer camp was when they were in second grade. So they came back here during camp and it’s like, ‘Man, these guys are hard to start, but they’ve never done two days before, because they didn’t have to as than juniors.’

This year, however, Dougherty introduces a new dynamic for himself and his players.

“You have to prove yourself,” he said. “It takes a lot of hard work and determination, but talking costs nothing. You have to go out and earn it.

Either way, this more experienced group of Fords seem to have a solid grip on their place in time.

“This year, I think we have a better understanding of what camp is supposed to be like,” Dougherty said. “It’s no one’s fault, it’s just that the kids have more experience right now in terms of having a full season last year and a full camp this year.”

Helping this latest transition is the idea of ​​this year’s players grasping the nuances of the game and the relationships it forces teams to forge.

“We’ve had a full year of lifting, which is good,” Wright said. “It helped us a lot. We’re much stronger than last year, and I just think our morale this year has been much better, and our enthusiasm, it’s been much higher than it was. We stay together now. Our energy went through the roof. We all know each other better and are much more like family now than we were last year.

Wright, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound veteran team leader threw for 1,873 yards and 23 touchdowns last season. Mahan, both arms free, is a favorite target. He caught a school-record 10 touchdown passes as a junior, as well as 48 receptions and 798 receiving yards.

Other weapons for the Fords include 5-10, 210-pound senior running back/linebacker CollinCassidy, returning wide receiver Ben Fleming (6-0, 180-pound senior) and returning tight end Justin Marciano , who doubles as a 6-0, 195 linebacker.

Another target for Wright is Tyler Rogers, a wide receiver/defensive back returning from injury; while second-year starter with big name football Zeke Bates (5-10, 185) provides the offense with some flexibility as a receiver and runner.

Tommy Touhill (5-11, 235) and Tommy Dixon (5-10, 225) gained offensive line experience last year, and they’ll be joined by senior high tackles Henry Gillespie, Will Cascarina, Burke Julien (6-1, 285) and Derek Kaercher (6-0, 285).

As for Mahan’s left arm, he says he said he had no problem telling those Rhode Island baseball scouts that in the fall of his high school season…sorry, but football passes first.

“They also offered me a spot to play on the football team,” Rams prospect Mahan said. “But that would take me too long. … But no, they love athletes who play multiple sports.

Especially those who want to jump with both limbs.

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