Saturday, November 29, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Football: Haddonfield wins title

By Phil Anastasia

Football: Haddonfield wins title

Gallery: Haddonfield 21, Woodstown 0

By Phil Anastasia

Frank DeLano knows history as well as football.

The Haddonfield coach knows his team had not beaten Camden in 80 years before a 45-19 victory in the South Jersey Group 2 semifinals on Nov. 23

He knows his team was playing Woodstown for the first time since 1928 in Saturday's South Jersey Group 2 title game.

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"We're just a little cog," DeLano said of his program's place in the big wheel of South Jersey football history.

But since the creation of the state playoff system in 1974, there's never been a team quite like Haddonfield in 2013.

The Bulldogs completed a remarkable run to the title with a 21-0 victory over Woodstown on a cold, windy afternoon at Rowan University's Richard Wackar Stadium.

"What a special journey," DeLano said of Haddonfield's road to the title.

Haddonfield (10-2), the No. 8 team in The Inquirer Top 25 ranking, won its sixth game in a row -- including its third straight against an undefeated higher seed in the state tournament.

Haddonfield beat 8-0 West Deptford in the opening round, 9-0 Camden in the semifinals and 11-0 Woodstown in the championship game.

"We really worry more about how we play than who we play," said Haddonfield senior Teddy Stavetski, who scored the Bulldogs' final touchdown with a 35-yard interception return. "But it's pretty special (to beat three undefeated teams in the tournament)."

DeLano said he knew Haddonfield's road to the top of the tournament mountain likely was "unprecedented,"  especially since it's rare for any field to include three undefeated teams, much less for all three to be lined up like ducks in a row for a No. 5 seed that entered the post season with a 6-2 record.

"Our kids know," DeLano said his players. "But you have to have blinders on and just play who you play. These kids, they just bought in and worked so hard to make this happen."

In a dominant performance, Hadonfield's defense allowed just 42 total yards and was the highest-scoring unit on the field with a pair of touchdowns.

After a scoreless first half, Haddonfield junior linebacker Mark Walker picked up a fumble and ran four yards for a touchown with  four minutes, 59 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Walker's touchdown was set up by Haddonfield sophomore defensive tackle Frank Fortino, whose hit forced the fumble.

"It's great to score on offense but it's sweeter to score on defense," said Haddonfield senior two-way lineman Patrick Porter.

In a hard-hitting defensive battle, No. 15 Woodstown (11-1) was able to contain Haddonfield's offense. But the Wolverines couldn't generate much offense against the Bulldogs' swarming defense.

"We had trouble moving the ball," Woodstown coach John Adams said. "We had troule blocking up front. Haddonfield is a great team and very well-coached."

DeLano and several players credited Haddonfield assistant coach Mike Miller with creating a defensive game plan that contained Woodstown.

"All props to coach Miller," Stavetski said.

Junior Jake Klaus scored Haddonfield's second touchdown ona  19-yard run, and Stavetski capped the vcitory by stepping in front of a pass and racing 35 yards down the right sideline for another score with 8:20 remaining.

"I know I sound like Fred Shero," DeLano said of the late, great former Flyers coach. "But I told these kids, 'We'll walk together forever.'"

Haddonfield 0 0 7 14 - 21

Woodstown 0 0 0 0 -- 0

H: Mark Walker 4 fumble return (Drew Tomlinson kick)

H: Jake Klaus 19 run (Tomlinson kick)

H: Teddy Stavetski 35 interception return (Tomlinson kick)

-- Contact Phil Anastasia at panastasia@phillynews.com

-- Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter

About this blog
Born and raised in South Jersey, Phil Anastasia prefers standing on the sidelines at high school football games on Friday nights to sitting in the press box at Eagles games on Sunday afternoons. He’s a graduate of Rowan University with a degree in English. Reach Phil at panastasia@phillynews.com.

Phil Anastasia Inquirer Columnist
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