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COLLINGSWOOD – The Haddonfield High School football team hasn’t had its normal fire this season.

The Haddons entered their matchup at Collingswood Saturday seeking a spark, something to jolt them to life.

So, they started barking. Literally.

“Everyone was so much more excited to play,” senior defensive back Caden Undlin said.

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Tommy Batson returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, and while they struggled to build off that in the first half because of mental miscues, they played their best 24 minutes of football this season to close the night en route to a 35-0 triumph.

“Winning is hard,” head coach Frank DeLano said. “I don’t care who you play. It doesn’t matter. We know that in this game, you have to play with emotion, not emotional, and we needed something. The more you look at this (team), there’s a lot of younger guys out here, whether by grade or experience. … We are extremely proud of the history of our program, very proud of it, but it doesn’t win you games now. Those kids need to watch tape and see themselves performing and executing.”

They’ll certainly see that during film this week in all three phases.

However, the defense earned the highest marks on the evening as they forced five Panther turnovers.

Undlin, who had two of the team’s four interceptions, was particularly happy to put some highlights together as his father, Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Cory Undlin, will have a hard time seeing him live the rest of the season because of his schedule.

“I got to make some plays and send ’em,” Caden said. “He’s always saying he’s on the bus, send me some film, I want to see what you’re up to. I’ll probably call him as soon as we’re done here and hopefully, he’s as hyped up as I’ve been.”

Undlin wasn’t the only defensive star though as Jake Amons had a pick-6 in the third quarter and Bobby Hahn had a forced fumble and the other interception.

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“We clocked in,” Batson said. “First half might’ve been slow, but at halftime we really fired up, really got back in it.”

Batson admitted its been trying at times this season as a youthful program struggled to find its identity and confidence.

Saturday’s second half could be exactly what the team needs to play to its potential.

“We just got to be more confident like we were today, and in the future things will work out,” Batson said.

Does that mean there will be more barking on sidelines the rest of this year?

“For sure,” Undlin said.

Perspective

After every Haddonfield game, head coach Frank DeLano tells his players to go to their family, friends and fans and say thank you for supporting them.

He delivered the same message Saturday in the postgame huddle, but it had extra meaning following the death of Collingswood assistant coach Derrick Scott on Monday.

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“I take every opportunity to hug and kiss my kids and my family and I’m making sure everyone knows because you never know,” DeLano said. “… Tonight wasn’t about me, tonight wasn’t about (Collingswood) coach (Mike) McKeown, tonight wasn’t about one person. Tonight was about how can we help the Collingswood football family and the Scott family get through a crisis. … We cannot lose sight of the important things in life.

“… (Scott) was (31), that’s way too young. That shouldn’t happen. It shouldn’t. Unfortunately, it did, so we have to make sure our kids understand the big picture, making sure that we don’t miss an opportunity to tell people you love ’em. I don’t care how old you are, you still tell everybody each day you love ’em.”

Game notes

► Batson ran 20 times for 103 yards to guide the offense while quarterback Carson Wolff ran for scores of 30 and 15 yards.

The second TD run, which gave the Haddons a 28-0 lead in the fourth, was the play of the night on that side of the ball as he evaded three defenders in the backfield before finding pay dirt.

“That’s one of my strong suits, sometimes making something out of nothing,” Wolff said. “Hitting a few cuts back and I had a few good blocks and I was able to walk into the end zone.”

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► The hit of the night belonged to Haddonfield’s Matthew Carey, who shook himself up bringing down Collingswood’s Quadir Fussell in the third quarter. The sound from the collision rang out across the stadium.

► It was an emotional day for Collingswood, which honored Scott at halftime.

“Moving the game to Saturday night might’ve been, probably seemed like the best thing because of our lack of practice all week, but it was probably the worst sitting around all day,” said McKeown, who wore Scott’s No. 21 jersey during the game. “My kids didn’t respond to that. There was no flow in the middle of our warmups. Normally, our kids are pretty hyped and energetic, but the emotion of the whole entire week just caught up them. … Myself, I had no juice today.”

McKeown hopes getting away from football on Sunday will help himself, the coaches and the kids process Scott’s passing.

“Emotionally for me and my staff, and I told my kids don’t go on Hudl, we’re not doing anything tomorrow, let’s refocus our minds, get straight mentally,” he said. “For me, I’m going to spend time with my wife and son, give my son a hug. I feel like I lost a son, that’s how hard it me. I treat my kids like they’re my own kids. I defend them till I’m blue in the face. I’m a Collingswood guy through and through and losing Derrick was like losing one of my own sons.”

Josh Friedman has produced award-winning South Jersey sports coverage for the Courier Post and The Daily Journal for more than a decade. If you have or know of an interesting story to tell, reach out on Twitter at @JFriedman57 or via email at jfriedman2@gannettnj.com. You can also contact him at 856-486-2431. Help support local journalism with a Courier Post subscription.