HADDONFIELD — In the 106th meeting between Haddonfield and Haddon Heights, the Bulldawgs came out victorious for the third consecutive year, keeping the Mayors’ Cup in their school, beating the Garnets 45-6 on Thursday afternoon.
Powered by a strong running attack in the first half, Haddonfield scored all of their points before halftime.
Head coach of the Bulldawgs, Frank DeLano, knew he wanted the team to come out and establish the ground game from the start.
“Listen, this is football and you've got to be able to run the football and stop the run,” DeLano said. “Our guys, credit them. They had a little bit of a quick turnaround, playing last weekend, and they just watched a lot of film this week, had a couple good days of practice and were ready to go.”
Haddonfield rushed for over 200 yards in the first half, and four of their touchdowns came on the ground. Their first came from senior running back Jake Klaus from 27 yards out. Klaus, who also scored later in the game from 16 yards away, said it was his team's plan to come into the game and pound the football.
“ I like a ground and pound kind of mindset, and establishing the run game was what we wanted to do,” Klaus said. "It is always important to do that, and then it opens up your pass game, like on Jake’s (Robinson) touchdown. Coach stresses that to us.”
Klaus also gave a lot of the credit to his blockers for not only his two scores, but the success of all the running backs.
“I have to give all the credit to the line,” Klaus said. “There were huge holes all day, and I saw them, hit them, and did everything I could to score.”
Also in on the running party was senior tailback Michael DeFeo. DeFeo had four carries, but was able to gain 111 yards, most of which came on an 89-yard scamper on the first play of the Bulldawgs' fourth drive of the day. Just as Klaus did, DeFeo talked about how his blockers cleared the way for him.
“I always try and follow my lead blockers,” DeFeo said. “Mark (Walker) being one of them, and Tyler (Klaus) too, it is easy to follow those two. So I saw a crease open up and just took it, turned on the jets, and took care of the rest.”
Walker, who as the fullback is generally a blocker, also scored on his lone carry from 36 yards out in the second quarter. When asked about his blocking, Walker turned the tables on his running backs, and gave them a lot of the credit.
“They (Klauss and DeFeo) are the workhorses of the running game,” Walker said. “I don’t want to take too much of the credit. We just work really well together, blocking and running. I have been their fullback since we were little kids.”
Walker also made a mark on the game in the very next defensive series after his touchdown, taking an interception 34 yards for a score. As a senior, to score two touchdowns in a rivalry game, Walker relished the moment.
“Last home game ever on this field, and to do that, I was really happy,” Walker said with a smile. “It was a great way to go out.”
Coach DeLano wants to run the football, but what he loves is that he has a group of guys who are able to have the success they had on Thursday.
“None of our guys have gaudy numbers,” DeLano said. “We have selfless guys. We just find the hot hand and just keep going. There are natural rotations. There are only so many footballs to go around. Between our wideouts, our tailbacks, and our fullback, there are a lot of guys that need to touch the ball.”
DeLano addressed both teams after the game, and made many comments about the proud history of the rivalry between Haddonfield and Haddon Heights. To win the game, was even more special for him and his team.
“We don’t take anything for granted,” DeLano said. “We are very lucky to be a part of a special, special tradition. There are guys that have played in this game, you know, there are legacies that you are going to be carrying forth or starting your own. You never know if kids are going to stay in town and their kids will be a part of it. You just never know.”
With this game in the rearview mirror now for Haddonfield, their sights turn to the Group 2 Championship game against West Deptford next Sunday. When asked about his thoughts on next week, DeLano is just excited for a great football game.
“It is going to be a tremendous football game,” DeLano said. “People are going to really enjoy seeing two really good teams go at it for three hours on the turf at Rowan. West Deptford is a great program, they are really well coached, and have guys that play tough. And we also have guys that love to play football, and really talented as well, so it should be a really fun one to be a part of.”
Rob Langi writes for South Jersey Sports Digest.
HADDON HEIGHTS — At 13 months old, Cameron Robertson was diagnosed with a very rare form of liver cancer. The official medical diagnosis was hepatoblastoma, a form of cancer only one in a million people contract.
Fifteen years later Robertson is cancer free. But it didn't come easy. He battled for years to get to where he is.
From the time of his diagnosis through 1998 Robertson had to undergo 15 rounds of chemotherapy. He also endured three surgeries in which he lost 80 percent of his liver.
"It doesn't matter to me, I want to be an athlete, I don't plan to drink alcohol anyway," Robertson said with a smile.
And what an athlete he has turned out to be.
Robertson a resident of Haddon Heights holds two school records in swimming, one in the 400 and 200 free relay. For years, Robertson was a competitve swimmer. But now he is ready to take on contact sports.
This fall Robertson will be the kicker and punter for the Garnets as they compete in Colonial Conference football.
For Robertson, getting here took a lot of work.
"I know what I need to do to be here, and I will work to achieve it," said Robertson. "I have my mom come out and video me, then go home and analyze the video to make sure my mechanics are correct."
Robertson knows how to ensure his mechanics are on track.
Last spring when he decided he wanted to kick for the football team, he went to San Diego to get specialized training. Robertson spent a week at Kicking World and was trained by owner Brent Grablachoff, a New Jersey native and four-year starter at Montclair State from 1999-2002.
Robertson has several people he credits as being his inspiration including his parents and grandfather. This season, he has a very special person to look up too. His cousin is Trey Burton who is wearing No. 47 this preseason for the hometown Philadelphia Eagles. Burton, a University of Florida product, is trying to win a roster spot as a tight end. Roberston already has his Burton jersey and has been at Eagles training camp to show his support.
"It is amazing that he beat the odds and is even out there, he is here every day working hard", said Assistant Garnet coach Paul Palmer. "If he helps us win by getting some field goals and putting points on the board it will be great for our team, but it is even better for him because he worked so hard to get here", Palmer went on to say.
Off the field, Robertson has decided to pay it forward. He is an official ambassador for Alex's Lemonade Stand helping to raise money for cancer research.
The Garnet kicker, who can hit 40-yard field goals and 50-yard punts, has another unusual quality: he is a left-footed kicker.
Look for Robertson and the rest of the Haddon Heights team as they open the season at home against rival Paulsboro on Saturday, Sept. 13 at 1 p.m.