By Phil Anastasia
It was the near-perfect ending to the perfect season.
With an air-tight defense and a dominating ground game, Haddonfield rolled to 27-0 victory over arch-rival West Deptford in the South Jersey Group 2 championship game Sunday at Rowan University.
"We left no doubt," said Haddonfield senior tight end/defensive end Ty Klaus, who made big plays on both sides of the football for the Bulldogs.
Haddonfield stamped an exclamation point on the first 12-0 season in program history with an dazzling display on a bright, brisk afternoon at Richard Wackar Stadium.
"We will walk together forever," Haddonfield coach Frank DeLano told his team as the athletes gathered for a final huddle, surrounded by cheerleaders, parents and other supporters of the program.
Senior quarterback Mike Alberto ran for two scores and passed for another, and senior running backs Mike DeFeo and Jake Klaus gained a combined 246 rushing yards as Haddonfield won its second title in a row.
The Bulldogs' 18 seniors finished their careers with back-to-back sectional titles and with an 18-game winning streak.
Haddonfield also snapped a recent trend in the series between the two fierce rivals. In the previous four playoff games between the teams, the squad that won in the regular-season lost in the tournament.
But this year, Haddonfield beat West Deptford in overtime in the regular season and controlled play in the rematch in the tournament.
"I can't even put into words what this means," said Alberto, who scored on runs of 25 and 6 yards and also threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Ty Klaus. "It could never, ever be any better than this."
West Deptford (9-3), which has won six sectional titles since 2002 and battled Haddonfield for both sectional and Colonial Liberty supremacy since 2009, was undone by two turnovers in the third quarter as well as missed opportunities in the first.
"Hats off to them," West Deptford coach Clyde Folsom said of Haddonfield. "Our attention to detail has diminished in the last two-three weeks. We've been showing some fatigue.
"They clearly were better than us in every phase of the game."
DeFeo carried 10 times for 143 yards, including a 60-yard burst in the third quarter to set Haddonfield's last touchdown. Jake Klaus carried 23 times for 103 yards.
"What can't I say about the offensive line," Jake Klaus said. "They were pushing guys off the ball. We were getting, four, five, six yards at a time."
Haddonfield broke the game open in the third quarter, outscoring West Deptford by 20-0 and generating a 149-6 edge in yards.
Frank Fortino's fumble recovery off a big hit by senior linebacker Mark Walker set up Alberto's first touchdown, a 25-yard run around left end.
Two series later, Tommy Kadar recovered another West Deptford fumble at the Eagles' 20-yard line. Haddonfield needed three plays to score, with Ty Klaus making a remarkable one-hand snatch of a 16-yard touchdown pass from Alberto.
"We fool around in practice with one-handed catches," Klaus said. "It was great to do it in this game."
Moments later, DeFeo broke through a huge hole and raced 60 yards to the West Deptford 9-yard line. Alberto finished the drive with a six-yard touchdown run, again after a slick fake to Jake Klaus.
"Our offensive line did such a great job," DeLano said.
West Deptford botched two field-goal attempts with bad snaps on their first two possessions. The Eagles' first drive had progressed to a third-and-goal at the one-yard line but Ty Klaus knifed in from his left defensive end spot and threw West Deptford's ball-carrier for a one-yard loss.
"We had to get a yard there," Folsom said.
Haddonfield committed seven penalties and one turnover. So the Bulldogs weren't perfect.
But they dominated their archrivals in the biggest game of the season and became the first Haddonfield team since 1964 to finish with an undefeated and untied record.
"We made history," Alberto said.
West Deptford 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Haddonfield 0 7 20 0 -- 27
H: Jake Klaus 1 run (Drew Tomlinson kick)
H: Mike Alberto 25 run (Tomlinson kick)
H: Ty Klaus 16 pass from Alberto (Tomlinson kick)
H: Alberto 6 run (Kick failed)
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