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Friday Football preview: Haverford High seeks to halt District 1 playoff woes

Weather permitting, the No.-9 seeded Fords (8-2) visit No. 8 Neshaminy (7-3) in a DIstrict 1 Class 6A first-round playoff at 7 p.m. Friday.

Haverford High junior Trey Blair (10) runs for yardage against Central League rival Garnet Valley on Sept. 7.
Haverford High junior Trey Blair (10) runs for yardage against Central League rival Garnet Valley on Sept. 7.Read moreCHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer

Could this be the end to Haverford High's frustration in the PIAA District 1 football playoffs?

Joe Gallagher's squad qualified for the tournament in five of the last six seasons, but were immediately sent packing each year.

This time, the No. 9-seeded Fords (8-2) look to end their drought when they visit No. 8 Neshaminy (7-3) at 7 p.m. Friday at Harry E. Franks Stadium in Langhorne.

Haverford aims to shake off last week's 31-28 home loss to Central League rival Ridley. The Green Raiders won on a 25-yard field goal with less than 2 minutes to play.

Neshaminy, meanwhile, arrives with a five-game winning streak during which it outscored foes by 145-21.

"Just in general, they're a really good team, at every position," Gallagher said. "And, obviously, they have a great history and tradition."

The Fords' defense has to tighten the screws to beat the Redskins. The unit allowed Ridley to run for 155 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. A 72-yard dash set up the Green Raiders' third tally.

"We're usually pretty good at being ready from the first snap on," Gallagher said. "I'm pretty confident that something like that is not going to happen against Neshaminy."

Haverford's Jake Ruane, a senior and third-year starter, has completed 104 of 177 passes for 1,780 yards and 16 scores. He has rushed 89 times for 713 yards and 16 TDS.

Ruane's top pass-catching targets in a spread scheme are Shane Mosley, Trey Blair, Kevin DePrince, and Ryan Odgers. Blair sometimes gets touches on speed sweeps.

Neshaminy likewise has a dangerous passer. Junior Brody McAndrew has hit on 101 of 180 throws for 1,318 yards and 14 scores.

McAndrew has a trio of solid receivers at his disposal: Cory Joyce, Ryan O'Connor, and Zack Canimore. Joyce and O'Connor have combined for 62 catches for 774 yards and seven TDs.

Chris James has emerged as the Redskins' go-to rusher. The 5-foot-6, 160-pound sophomore has carried 175 times for 1,052 yards and seven scores

"He's tough to tackle, and their offensive line does a nice job of setting him up for success," Gallagher said." "That's a huge key for us, not to let their running game get going."

Game at a glance

History. It the first meeting between Haverford and Neshaminy.

Rushing threat. The Fords' Chasen Wint has carried 137 times for 682 yards and 10 TDs.

Bruising playmaker. Redskins linebacker Oleh Manzyk has registered a team-high 68 tackles, with 51 solos. He also fills in at running back and catches the ball out of the backfield.

Headliners. Haverford's defense is anchored by end Sean Leyden, tackle Paul Denman, linebacker Sean Reynolds, and backs Trey Blair (six interceptions) and Justin Burgess (five).

Up front. Neshaminy's defensive charge is led by ends Luke Hitchen and Chisom Ifeanyi, and tackles Sean Smith and Bobby Buchys.

Pick. Neshaminy, 21-13.