Tower Hill’s football team had a list of accomplishments Friday night after a 28-7 win over Wilmington Friends.
Finishing with a 10-0 record overall, the Hillers wrapped up the school’s first undefeated season since 1959.
At 3-0 against conference foes, they secured the Independent Conference championship.
But to running back Sam Murphy – who piled up more than 200 yards rushing and three touchdowns – the biggest statement was not what the team has already done, but what they can still accomplish.
“People don’t know us, people don’t respect us, people don’t fear us,” Murphy said. “We want to make them respect us. We want to make them fear us.”
Murphy put an emphatic exclamation point on that statement with a 90-yard touchdown run on the first offensive play from scrimmage to open the second half. Chris Miller’s point-after kick made it 14-0 Tower Hill.
“We’re just thrilled,” Tower Hill coach Kevin Waesco said of his team’s undefeated season. “I’m thrilled and excited about the effort of our guys for the past 10 weeks. To be 10-0 is something very special. We’re very excited about being able to play in the postseason and looking forward to the opportunity to play one more game – hopefully a couple more.”
The Quakers (4-5, 2-1) closed the gap to one touchdown when Jake Erskine caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Jack Kempner with seven and a half minutes remaining in the third quarter.
But Tower Hill’s offense refused to be quashed, taking advantage of a Friends fumble and opening up a 14-point lead when Peter Smith caught a 43-yard pass from Matt Smith early in the fourth quarter.
And Murphy kept churning away on the ground as the Hillers turned another Quaker fumble into points when Murphy went 19 yards for the game’s final score with less than two minutes to go.
“I’ve got to give it all to my linemen,” Murphy said. “They were making holes, making everything happen. Matt Smith, Cole Wenzel, Noah Thomas – all those guys making holes for me. Grier Wakefield, Jermaine Knotts, everybody running hard. But really it starts with the guys up front.”
The first half didn’t go quite as smoothly for either team, as four of the seven drives ended in turnovers.
The Hillers put together a methodical 15-play drive that consumed much of the first quarter, advancing into the red zone on their first offensive series before a fumble turned the ball over to the Quakers with less than two minutes to go in the first.
After both teams traded turnovers to end drives, it took just two plays for Murphy to score the game’s first touchdown on a breakaway 66-yard run with 10:55 remaining in the first half.
That touchdown set the tone for much of the rest of the game.
“We took advantage of some of the holes that are there. It’s about executing,” Waesco said. “We always try to establish the running game. It’s the nature of the system.”