Longtime Haverford High coach Joe Gallagher has prepared his defense for a major aerial assault.
Marple Newtown’s Anthony Paoletti has completed 53 of 98 passes for 816 yards and five touchdowns through four games, Last season, the 6-foot-3, 215-pounder threw for nearly 2,800 yards and 33 scores.
“He does a lot of his best work when he’s in an unsettled situation,” Gallagher said of the Delaware recruit. “We need to contain him, keep him in the pocket as much as possible.”
Haverford (4-0) visits Marple Newtown (3-1) in a key Central League matchup at 7 p.m. Saturday at Crozer-Keystone Stadium.
The Fords, who are looking to reverse last year’s 26-13 loss to Paoletti & Co., and the Tigers are both 3-0 in league action.
Paoletti’s primary targets are wideouts Dash Dulgerian (20 catches for 450 yards, two TDs) and Alden Mathes (11 for 158, one TD).
Haverford, which has outscored its foes by 161-33, likewise flourishes through the air. Jake Ruane and Jordan Mosley make up one of the area’s best pass-catch duos.
Ruane has converted 34 of 58 throws for 494 yards and seven TDs. Mosley has 11 receptions for 206 yards and four scores.
Ruane also has solid receiving options in Trey Blair, Jonathan Klee, Carrington Hooks, and Kevin DePrince. Halfback Travis Weiss is the squad’s go-to rusher.
Marple Newtown’s defense is headed by linebackers Luke Jelus (29 tackles), Kyle Tobin (27 tackles, three sacks) and Luke Cantwell, tackle Mike Miller, and free safety Aaron Diamond.
The Tigers have won three straight since a 19-18 loss to Florida High at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando. “We’ve ironed out a lot of the mistakes we made in that game,” coach Chris Gicking said.
Against Marple Newtown, Haverford needs a strong pass rush from a line that features tackle Tim Campli and end Matt Young.
A Fords secondary that likely will be kept busy is made up of Jordan Mosley, a 6-1, 200-pound safety who is ticketed for Maryland, and cornerbacks Blair and Shane Mosley, Jordan’s brother.
“Haverford does everything well on both sides of the ball and on special teams,” Gicking said.
Downingtown East (4-0, 1-0 Ches-Mont League National) at Bishop Shanahan (4-0, 1-0), 7. Can QB Dan DiBeneditto and the Eagles upset the Cougars for the second time in four years? Pick: Downingtown East, 28-13.
Interboro (2-2) at Penn Charter (2-0), 11. Running back Kalie Kuyateh (413 rushing yards, six TDs) and the gritty Bucs nip the host Quakers. Pick: Interboro, 20-16.
No. 16 Haverford High at No. 21 Marple Newtown, 7. This one is a real tossup. We’ll go with the Fords in a taut contest played before a large crowd. Pick: Haverford, 23-19.
Harry S Truman (4-0, 1-0 Suburban One National Conference) at No. 20 Neshaminy (3-1, 1-0), 1. Can the much improved Tigers find a way to beat the Redskins for the first time since 1995? Pick: Neshaminy, 26-21.
No. 7 North Penn (2-2, 1-0 Suburban One Continental Conference) at No. 14 Pennridge (3-1, 1-0), 7. The Knights defense is focused on slowing speedy halfback Josh Pinkney. Pick: North Penn, 28-20.
Central Bucks West (3-1) at Bensalem (4-0), 7. Keith Parrish (385 yards rushing, 36 tackles) is a do-everything type for the Owls. Pick: Bensalem, 21-20, in overtime.