Trey Blair lined up at quarterback in middle school.
He wasn’t really a quarterback.
“I would just get the ball and run,” Blair said.
Now a senior at surging Haverford High, Blair sometimes still does that. He has rushed for 1,028 yards on 98 carries, an average of 10.4 yards a pop, as well as 15 touchdowns.
But there’s a lot more to Blair’s game these days. He’s a high-percentage passer. He’s a smart decision-maker on the read-option.
Most of all, he’s the field general for a team that has won seven in a row and looms as a dangerous dark horse in the District One Class 6A playoffs.
Haverford (7-2), which has averaged 38 points in its seven-game winning streak, closes out the regular season Friday at home against Conestoga. The postseason tournament begins Nov. 1.
“I was never the guy who controls the whole game,” Blair said before practice Tuesday. “I’m really enjoying it. I think I’m in a great position to step up and be a leader on the team.”
Haverford coach Joe Gallagher said the Fords’ rally from an 0-2 start has been fueled by two things: Blair’s spectacular athleticism and steady improvement at quarterback and the work of one of the best defenses in the veteran mentor’s 28 seasons.
The Fords have allowed just 28 points in the seven-game winning streak, and not all of those were against the first-team defense.
But it’s been Blair’s play at quarterback that has supercharged Haverford’s season. As a sophomore and junior, Blair was a top receiver and defensive back for a team led by graduated quarterback Jake Ruane, now a freshman at Ursinus College.
Immediately after the 2018 season, Gallagher told Blair to prepare to become a quarterback as a senior.
“He’s the best athlete in Delco,” Gallagher said. “We figured it might be a good idea to get the ball in his hands every play just to show we aren’t complete idiots.”
Blair and Haverford started slowly, with a 14-7 loss to Archbishop Carroll on Aug. 23. The next week, the Ford lost, 35-28, to Garnet Valley, but Blair felt something shift in the right direction.
“That game set the tone for rest of season,” Blair of the loss to the Jaguars, who are 8-1 and loom as a possible opponent for Haverford in the playoffs. “Every week we built off that energy, the way we played that game.
“We’re very confident now. You see it at practice, everybody flying around, guys working hard but with a smile on their face.”
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Blair has improved on a weekly basis, according to Gallagher. In last Friday’s 39-0 win over Marple-Newtown, Blair gained 278 yards on just 11 carries, scoring on runs of 74, 85, and 54 yards.
“Every week, he’s getting more and more comfortable,” Gallagher said.
Gallagher said Blair is a team leader on and off the field.
“The most impressive thing is the kind of kid he is,” Gallagher said. “He’s just very humble, a great student, a real tribute to his family and the way he was raised.”
Garnet Valley coach Mike Ricci has a high opinion of Blair.
“He’s a great high school football player,” Ricci said. "They get stopped, get stopped, and then all of a sudden, he goes 70 yards.”
Blair is a University at Buffalo recruit and could end up playing defense at the next level. He’s long been known as a heavy hitter.
But now he’s a quarterback, through and through. He has completed 75% of his passes (55-for-73) for 696 yards and four touchdowns. He has settled comfortably into his new position, directing the offense with poise and patience while mixing in the occasional big play.
“It’s cool for me, never really having played quarterback, to see improvement every week,” Blair said. “That’s what it’s all about – getting results from being coached and working at it.