By MARK TRIBLE
South Jersey Glory Days Football Writer
PAULSBORO — It took 3 minutes, 10 seconds for Haddonfield’s football team to find the end zone on Saturday.
It didn’t take much longer for the Haddons to prove they will once again be a force to be reckoned with all autumn long.
Coach Frank DeLano’s team rolled out to a 20-0 lead in the first quarter here and captured a 44-26 win over the host Red Raiders.
Quarterback Declan McCarthy proved a big reason why in the TURNERSVILLEJEEP.COM Game of the Week.
He hit on tosses for six in each of the club’s first three drives — to Patrick Ryan, Dom Hahn and Carl Forebaugh.
Allow all-time South Jersey great quarterback Kevin Harvey — whose debut as head coach got spoiled by McCarthy and Co. — to sum up No. 19’s day.
“He was poised,” Harvey said. “He looked like he’d been in there for a little bit. He looked very poised.”
Indeed, he did. McCarthy finished with 16 completions on 19 attempts. He totaled 248 yards through the air, per NJ.com’s Kevin Minnick. Four of his passes went for touchdowns. McCarthy added another on the ground for Haddonfield (1-0, 0-0 West Jersey Football League Constitution).
“I’ve grown as a quarterback and I’ve grown in my intelligence,” McCarthy said of his success. “I’m able to read a defense more now. I can make decisions faster and I have a stronger arm.”
The junior played last season in a couple games while starter Carson Wolff dealt with an injury. He hung in there after Wolff returned and led the Haddons to a Group 2 Regional Championship.
This year, it’s all McCarthy at the helm. The 6-foot-2, 231-pounder appears fully ready for the opportunity. He also spends time at defensive end.
“Last year, he had a choice to make after that moment,” DeLano said. “Last year, Carson was the best guy for the team that we had in terms of the offensive line’s capability and (being) more in the run game that we had … He handled it maturely.”
DeLano credited McCarthy’s experience in his youth program since age 6. His father also spent time on the Haddonfield staff in years past.
All that helped cultivate someone who looked the part of a stellar high school quarterback against the Raiders (0-1, 0-0 WJFL Diamond).
McCarthy deferred the credit. He mentioned an offensive design of run-to-pass ratio as a key to the season opener.
Backs Charlie Klaus and Hahn added a dimension to a Haddons offense that had its way for much of the contest.
“Our coaches hyped up this game for most of the week in that it was a big (Colonial) Conference rival who we used to play a lot,” Klaus said. “I feel like it was a big win for us.”
Klaus, who scored on a 34-yard run late to cap the points, said McCarthy has a firm grip on the playbook. He also explained the mindset in 2022 for a team that should be one of the favorites to contend for the Group 2 state championship.
“Just keep it rolling, really,” Klaus said. “Coach always says it’s about getting another championship, it’s not about holding one.”
If anyone knows how to get another, it’s DeLano — who quarterback whispers with the best of them. He liked what he saw on Saturday.
“I think we had a really good week of prep, we watched tape and he understands tape,” DeLano said. “… When he comes off the field and he’s able to give you information, he’s able to tell you this is what’s happening.”
But the point wasn’t lost on what got achieved with the 18-point victory.
“Declan had a heckuva day,” DeLano said. “But this was a great team win.”
Ryan Foley snagged an interception. Chris Clax had a crucial fumble recovery deep in Paulsboro territory. Matt Zappetti made a circus catch for a touchdown. Blaise Coley hit on a 30-yard field goal.
Haddonfield picked up where it usually leaves off — in the win column. And to DeLano’s point, team football had a lot to do with that.
So did McCarthy.
“It’s easy to be calm when you have a line you trust and backs you trust,” he said. “I knew I had a job today and I came and did it.”
What’s Next: Haddonfield visits Camden Catholic on Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. Paulsboro travels to Woodstown on Sept. 9 at 7 p.m.
Mark Trible is a special high school football writer for South Jersey Glory Days. You can follow him on Twitter @MTrible. Also, catch his high school football show (The South Jersey Football Frenzy Show) every Wednesday at 7 p.m. at facebook.com/sjglorydays.