By TED SILARY
This is no passing fancy.
The Gordon family's belief that flingin' the football is the best way to move it is not only entrenched right now and will continue to remain so, it also goes way back.
Before Drew Gordon set Villanova's one-game record for passing yardage in a memorable performance against Temple on Thanksgiving Day 1970, and before his son, Brett, enjoyed an off-the-charts career at 'Nova, there was Andy Gordon, dad to Drew and grandpop to Brett.
Same college. Same position.
"My dad went to Penn for a year, then transferred to Villanova," Drew Gordon said. "The story always was, Penn was still running the single wing and Villanova was starting to use the T formation. He wanted to throw."
Some things never change.
Saturday, 1 p.m., at Northeast High's Charlie Martin Memorial Stadium, Drew Gordon's La Salle High team will meet Ridley in a PIAA Class AAAA semifinal. If the Explorers' first, oh, 27 plays are passes, don't be surprised.
OK, we exaggerate. These days, in fact, the play calls feature a decent amount of runs due to the presence of junior scatback Jamal Abdur-Rahman. But if the gods of football ever ban passing, Drew Gordon will disappear from the scene and wear a black armband for the rest of his life.
Whether it's laziness or foul-weather fears, many high school coaches still turn up their noses at passing.
Again and again during his two-stint association with La Salle's program, Gordon has shown that a quality passing attack can help to produce amazing results.
This is his fourth year as the head coach. His record includes 36 wins in 50 tries and a trio of Catholic League championships. The first time around, as the offensive coordinator under Joe Colistra from 1994-97, La Salle went 40-9 and claimed two titles. It also set what was then a city-leagues record with 32 consecutive wins.
He was also an assistant in '05 so his 9-year association with the program has featured an 85-27 record with five titles.
"The whole thing is using the three-step drop, having three wide receivers, and spreading the field," Gordon said. "It's the system I learned at Villanova and I haven't changed it too much.
"People think passing is just running a square-out or post pattern, and that's it. There's so much more to it than that. You have to be willing to spend the practice time on it, so it becomes second nature.
"A lot of coaches don't understand this offense. I can relate. If somebody came up to me and said, 'The triple option is the best offense in the world,' well, I understand parts of it, but I don't know all the blocking schemes. I wouldn't have the confidence to use it, or the patience to learn it. This is what I learned, and what I believe in."
Andy Gordon, a product of St. Joseph's Prep, played 2 years in the Canadian Football League after his 'Nova stint, then wound up serving as the Prep's head coach in 1952 and '53. Drew is pretty sure his dad was the CFL's leading passer as a rookie.
Brett Gordon, meanwhile, was so productive in his career at La Salle - with dad calling the shots - he wound up as the Daily News' Player of the Century. When he began his career, the city's career passing records for yards and touchdowns were 41 and 4,929. When he finished - 84 and 6,837. At 'Nova, his three starting seasons merely yielded 9,600 yards and 83 TDs.
As for Drew...
After earning first team coaches' All-Catholic honors in '67 for Bishop McDevitt, he mostly served as a backup at 'Nova. Ah, but there was that Thanksgiving occasion in '70, when starter Daryl Woodring (injury) was unavailable as the Wildcats played Temple before an estimated 17,500 at long-gone Temple Stadium.
Rallying from a 12-0 deficit, 'Nova triumphed, 31-26, as the 5-9 Gordon finished 24-for-42 for 395 yards and three TDs (all to future NFLer Mike Siani). He also ran for a score.
Before yesterday's practice, held at Plymouth-Whitemarsh, a bunch of Explorers were shown the sports section of The Evening Bulletin from Nov.27, 1970. At the top of the front page were two photos by Michael J. Maicher showing Gordon - one postgame in the locker room with Siani (both were smiling broadly) and another of him, wide-eyed, preparing to throw for the winning TD.
"I didn't know they had newspapers back then," one player kidded. "I thought everything was etched in stone."
All, to a man, loved the action pic.
"It's the same face! Just with a helmet on," one said. "We always see that look [in times of urgency]."
That yardage record now belongs to Brett, who threw for 460 vs. Delaware in 2002.
"It's pretty cool to see your son break a record you had," Dad said.
The passing whiz of these last two teams has been Drew Loughery, now a senior and the proud owner of 5,142 career yards and 50 TDs.
"As long as you have the athletes, the system's great, and we've had that the past few years," Loughery said. "And we've had the blocking, too, to make it all work.
"I come in here every day just trying to learn as much as I can about my position. It's like getting a free education. I enjoy every minute of it."
Amazingly, Drew Gordon coached only pound ball with the Glenside Gorillas before becoming La Salle's offensive coordinator, at Colistra's request, with free reign, for the '94 season. Oh, and he hadn't drawn X's and O's for roughly 20 years.
However, he'd spent 17 seasons as the analyst for Villanova's radio broadcasts. His last year was Brett's first season of playing, as a sixth-grader.
"I couldn't do it anymore," he said. "I didn't want to miss his games."
Gordon, who owned a truck-leasing firm until selling it in August 2008, is now semiretired.
"This is fun," he said. "The only pressure you have is the kind you put on yourself because of your pride. Plus, all my assistants are good family guys who are fun to be with and really do right by the kids.
"Playing football's the best. Coaching is next. Watching your kid play? That's the hardest. You have no influence. Things just happen out there."
In 2001, Gordon mentioned, due to special circumstances, he was asked to return to the broadcast booth for one game, at Richmond. Brett was QBing.
"'Nova's down two, one timeout, 1:39 to go," he said. "Talk about nervous. I'm thinking, 'If he throws a pick here, I'll have to talk about it.' All I wanted was to be in the stands, so I could cheer and pace around and do all the things I always did. Instead I had to maintain my composure."
How'd it go?
"They won, 31-30. Field goal on the last play of the game."