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McCarthy’s selflessness, hometown pride show in Haddonfield win over Woodbury

Haddonfield senior Declan McCarthy scored four touchdowns in a 28-6 win over Woodbury on Friday, September 23, 2022. Kevin Emmons/D2 Sports Network

HADDONFIELD (N.J.) - Haddonfield Memorial High School junior Declan McCarthy tends to hold himself to a higher standard.

McCarthy scored four touchdowns in the Haddons' 28-6 victory over Woodbury in a West Jersey Football League matchup on Friday night.

He wasn't necessarily pleased with his individual performance, but the team's prosperity on the gridiron reigned superior.

"If you ask him, he's going to say it's probably his worst game he's ever played in his career," Haddonfield coach Frank DeLano said. "That's why we love him. He's a competitor. That's what he's built for. He's built for Friday night lights."

"It's more about how our team plays as a whole," McCarthy said. "Me having four touchdowns doesn't really matter. It's more about us putting four touchdowns on the board. There was a lot of reads I didn't miss, but I kind of hesitated in the pocket because there was a little bit of pressure. Other than that, I did a decent job."

The junior delivered a pair of touchdown strikes to Charlie Klaus to provide the Haddons with a 14-0 advantage at intermission.

Woodbury cut into the deficit on a 27-yard loft from Bryan Johnson to Ja'Bron Solomon. The Thundering Herd trailed 14-6 with 11:54 left in regulation.

McCarthy left no doubt rushing for a two-yard score and tossing a 38-yard touchdown pass to Chris Clax within a five-minute, 16-second span in the final stanza to secure the triumph.

The junior's accountability and 'team-first' mentality stems from his comprehension of Haddonfield's rich football tradition. The senior has competed in the community since he was six years old.

"He's been in it since he was six years old," DeLano said. "He did it the old-fashioned way. He just worked and grinded through the system and kept at it. There's no doubt he's a leader on this team."

The Thundering Herd dropped to 4-1 and lost only their second contest over the last 19 games.

A season ago, Woodbury lost its only game on the calendar in the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 1 regional championship at Rutgers University.

Friday night's setback allowed the Thundering Herd to experience disappointment in the midst of the journey, rather than the conclusion, and use it as a learning point to overcome adversity.

"You can't look at this and say it's over," Woodbury coach Anthony Reagan said. "It's preparation for what you're about to get into in about a month. Our whole motto is moving from good to great. So having a regular season where you get to play great teams is a help for us, parameter wise, to get to where we're trying to be at."

The Bulldawgs improved their record to 3-0 and have won 12 out of their last 13 games dating back to last season.

McCarthy believes Friday night's statement victory can be a sign of positive things to come.

"It sets a good precedent for the team as a whole," McCarthy said. "(It establishes) a new level we have to reach for the next game. We have a great coaching staff. Everybody cares about the sport. Everybody wants to be here. Everybody puts effort in."

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