Haddonfield’s Foley twins will play one last football game together
Jay Foley, the undefeated Bulldawgs' quarterback, and John Foley, a wide receiver and defensive back, likely will play together for the last time in Saturday's Group 2 South/Central Bowl Game vs. Hillside.
The football came flying out of Jay Foley's hand, another perfect spiral cutting through the cold November night.
The ball landed in John Foley's hands, another completion, another connection between brothers who have been together since the womb.
"One more," Haddonfield coach Frank DeLano yelled, and nobody was complaining.
For the unbeaten Bulldawgs, another drill during another practice under the lights at their historic stadium was another chance to spent time together before that final whistle on Saturday night.
That's especially true for the Foley brothers.
They are twins who were born a record-setting 4 hours, 10 minutes apart, on a Super Bowl Sunday, of course.
"My mom still holds the record [for longest time between birth of twins] for Cooper Hospital," said John Foley, older of the siblings.
They've been together since Jay finally decided to rejoin John on the outside on the same day the Baltimore Ravens beat the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXVII in Tampa, Fla.
They've always had a special rapport in the sports arena, playing football, basketball, and baseball, and growing up with big-time athletes on both sides of the family.
"Coach DeLano always says he's not letting his son beat him in Madden," John Foley said. "That's the way it's always been in our family. Nothing but competition."
Saturday at 4 p.m.at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, Haddonfield (12-0) will play its final game, facing Hillside (11-0) in the Group 2 South/Central Bowl Game.
It will mark the end of the careers for Haddonfield's seniors, who have led the team to back-to-back South Jersey Group 2 titles as well as a current 16-game winning streak, the longest in the state.
It almost certainly will mark the last game together for the Foley brothers, who first suited up with many of their current classmates in the town's youth program as third graders.
"It's been a big topic of discussion amongst all my best friends on this team," Jay Foley said. "It's good to let it sink in as it happens, so don't look back and say, 'Dang, I missed it.'
"We've got a mature group of guys who recognize how important this game is."
For Haddonfield, Saturday's game marks the opportunity to become the first 13-0 team in program history as well as to finish the seniors' careers with 17 consecutive victories.
More than that, it's one last chance to stay together before they scatter, as all high school teams must, with each athlete going his separate way with regard to college and other life choices.
"That's what Gabe [Klaus] totally has been emphasizing," Jay Foley said of the Bulldawgs' star defensive end and tight end. "A lot of people talk about playing with their boys. This has been our group of guys since day one."
For the Foley brothers, and their famous father, there's an added poignancy to this week, since it's the last chance for an on-the-field connection between the quarterback and the wide receiver.
"This is the most fun I've ever had, playing football or watching football," Glenn Foley said of watching his twin sons in their final season. "I've just loved watching these kids play. All of them. I coached so many of them growing up."
It's not lost on anybody in the Foley family that there's a certain irony to the fact that the twins' last game will be in the home stadium of the NFL's New York Jets.
That's the team that drafted Glenn Foley, a Cherry Hill East graduate, out of Boston College in 1994. That's the team for whom he played five seasons at quarterback.
And that's the stadium to which he often brings his sons, including Glenn, a sophomore linebacker/fullback for Haddonfield, to watch Jets games in a luxury suite as part of a Jets alumni group.
"Yeah, they don't want to sit outside, they're spoiled," Glenn Foley said with a laugh.
Although the Foley twins have been to MetLife Stadium on many occasions, Saturday's game will mark the first time they have played on the field that serves as home for both the Jets and Giants.
"It's going to be awesome," John Foley said.
Despite his lack of classic quarterback stature, Jay Foley is the clear on-the-field leader for the Bulldawgs, thanks to his command post as the offense's signal caller but also his unwavering confidence.
Like his father before him, Jay Foley plays quarterback with a swagger. He's one of those guys who can appear to be strutting even when he's standing still.
"He has the upmost confidence in his own ability but he also has the upmost confidence in his teammates' ability," DeLano said. "He wants nothing more than to win. He doesn't care about his stats, his numbers. He just wants to win."
John Foley said both brothers have always displayed confidence in the sports arena. But the older sibling admits his younger brother has an extra measure of flamboyance.
"Both of us are known to be those guys who are very energetic, very out-and-about," John Foley said. "I think we've both always had that. We both embraced it and him probably a little bit more than me.
"I mean, he bleached his hair for the championship game. You don't see a lot of guys doing that stuff."
The brothers share unique big-play ability on the field. Jay Foley has completed 91 of 156 passes for 1,591 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also has rushed for 323 yards and six touchdowns.
"His versatility," John Foley said of his brother's greatest asset as a quarterback. "You can set a game plan, but as soon as that clock's turned on, you can't predict anything he's going to do.
"As runner, as a passer, he's as talented if not more talented than anyone around."
In Haddonfield's balanced offense, John Foley has 20 receptions for 407 yards and seven touchdowns. He's also a top defensive back with four interceptions.
"His work ethic is outstanding," DeLano said. "He's got great hands, a terrific skill set."
Glenn Foley notes that although Haddonfield stresses offensive balance, with a little more emphasis on the run than the pass, his sons have connected for touchdowns in perhaps the team's three biggest victories in the current winning streak — last year's sectional title game vs. West Deptford, this season's upset of then-No. 1 St. Joseph, and this season's sectional title game vs. Camden.
"That will stay with us forever," Jay Foley said. "Those two Group 2 championship game connections, we'll have that, our parents will have that, for the rest of our lives."
Physically, the twins are markedly different. John is tall and rangy, standing 6-foot-2 and weighing 175 pounds. He has scholarship offers from NCAA Division 1 programs such as Fordham and Lehigh.
Jay is 5-foot-9 and 173 pounds. He's the only quarterback in Haddonfield history to win back-to-back South Jersey titles. He's 21-3 as a starter, with a chance to finish his career on a 17-game winning streak.
But because of his lack of stature, Jay Foley has not been highly recruited. He plans to play college football, perhaps at the NCAA Division III level, perhaps as a walk-on at a school with a bunch of 6-foot-3 scholarship quarterbacks on the roster.
"I know it's late in the recruiting process," Jay Foley said. "I know I want to play football. I love the sport. My dad, my uncle Ed [an assistant coach at Temple] and everybody keeps telling me there's a spot for me somewhere. I just have to find it."
On Saturday, for the last time, Jay Foley's spot will be in the pocket, looking downfield in search of his brother.
They've been playing catch since they were able to pick up a ball and throw it to each other. This will be the last time in uniform, together with their best friends, in their final game.
"Our connection is unbelievable," John Foley said. "Our timing is like no other. Him being about throwing the ball the way he can and me being able to come down with it, that's a really cool thing."