No, this is not Vizzini from the classic movie “The Princess Bride” describing the Haddonfield Memorial High School Bulldawgs’ Group II Championship run. It’s simply the best word to sum it up.
The football team capped off a historic title run with a 21–0 victory over previously undefeated Woodstown High School in the Group II state title game played at Rowan University on Dec. 7. That was the Dawgs’ third victory in a row over teams that entered their matchup with Haddonfield undefeated. The Bulldawgs entered the tournament as a fifth seed, so clearly this result was a shock, right, coach?
“It was a tremendous month of football for sure. I’ll tell you, though, anytime you can return starters with the talent we had, we knew we’d have a chance. We knew we were a young team last year, but my feeling has always been if this isn’t your team’s goal headed into the season, then you’re selling your kids short,” head coach Frank DeLano said. “You want to play meaningful games as the season goes on. It sounds like coach-speak but it really is about how we’re playing, not who we’re playing and the next game being the most important game.”
Haddonfield’s bracket contained more teams than losses. The eight playoff teams had just seven combined losses. DeLano said the team’s regular season schedule lent itself to a difficult postseason slate.
“We lost early to Sterling in week four and the team didn’t want to be defined by that. There was a change in everyone, the players and the coaches. We knew we had all we needed to achieve what we wanted, so honestly the playoffs started that week for us,” DeLano said. “People question the difficulty of the Colonial Conference and I beg to differ. Collingswood was 5–1 when we played them. Paulsboro and West Deptford are always strong programs. Our conference got us ready for the run we made.”
What about the challenge of facing three teams in a row that entered the playoffs undefeated?
“Honestly, as a coaching staff, we never talked about the bracket. We didn’t look at it. Maybe the kids did but my feeling was it’s the playoffs, it’s supposed to be hard,” DeLano said. “You don’t worry about the bracket. You have to approach it blindfolded.”
DeLano said that for now, the “coach-speak” would cease and he would sit back and truly appreciate the weight of what the team accomplished.
“There really isn’t a time during the playoffs to enjoy the run. You’re in the grind, focused on the next team. So that’s what we’re going to do now. It’s a testament of if you work hard, good things will happen, and if you believe the dream, then it can happen,” Delano said. “This is a special group. We’re going to walk together forever. Not to go completely Fred Shero but these kids will share this story forever. They’ll tell their kids about this season.”