"There was nothing worse than having a season like last year," said Haddon Township senior tight end-linebacker Corson Harter, who enjoyed a strong game on both sides of the ball. "When we would run by Collingswood in the summer, it was a reminder of what we needed to do."
This is a tight-knit Haddon Township team, one that makes up in spirit what it lacks in numbers.
This year, the program has just 32 players in grades nine through 12.
"It's ironman football," said second-year coach Dave Dale, whose team lost a 21-3 opener Sept. 8 to Sterling. "The guys we have really work hard."
That's why some players arrived during the summer as early as 6 a.m. to get in that extra bit of weightlifting.
As if the depth wasn't low enough, the Hawks found out that one of their best players, running back-linebacker Connor Wade, couldn't play Saturday after suffering an ankle injury the day before.
Harter made many of the tackles, and the offense had several players contribute.
Junior Nick Marino scored the game's lone first-half touchdown on a 25-yard scoring pass from Jake Campbell in the first quarter. Marino also intercepted two passes from his cornerback spot in an outstanding all-around game.
He has been playing varsity since his freshman year, and he never dwells on the past. Marino looks at each game as a chance to get a "W."
"I love playing here for Haddon Township," he said. "There is no better feeling."
The Hawks missed the PAT after Marino's score, and it looked as if it might hurt them after Collingswood's DeRon Maxwell scored on a 10-yard run and Kevin Walters added the conversion kick with 4 minutes, 16 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Hawks then scored on the next possession, benefiting from three Collingswood penalties for 35 yards along the way.
The winning score came early in the fourth quarter on an 11-yard run by senior Dan Clemente, who broke a series of tackles.
"I didn't want to go down," he said.
Clemente also ran for the two-point conversion.
It's interesting because had Wade played, Clemente (7 carries, 21 yards) might not have earned many carries. Hawks junior Casey Boyle (16 carries, 54 yards) ran hard and did enough, sort of like his teammates on this day.
Led by Harter, the defense kept a big-play Collingswood team in check. The game was still in doubt until the Hawks' Elijah Camacho intercepted a Panthers pass on a third and 7 from the Haddon Township 37 with 1:16 left.
"Give their defense credit. They made the plays," Collingswood coach Jack McConnell said.
It was the Hawks' first win since a 7-0 triumph over Lindenwold last Oct. 28. That's a long time for the players to keep their heads up, but that is what the Hawks did.
In the summer, they ran together and often felt the pain. On Saturday, the walk to the locker room evoked a much different emotion.
Collingswood 0 0 7 0 – 7
Haddon Township 6 0 0 8 – 14
H: Nick Marino 25 pass from Jake Campbell (kick failed)
C: DeRon Maxwell 10 run (Kevin Walters kick)
H: Dan Clemente 11 run (Clemente run)
Contact Marc Narducci
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