NEWTOWN SQUARE >> After an eventful, but ultimately disappointing, trip to Florida last week, the Marple Newtown Tigers returned home for Central League play.
For their league intro, they took on an inexperienced Penncest team, and so this one went according to script, a 35-0 Tigers win Friday. With a senior quarterback bound for Delaware and a dominant defense, the victory was a relatively easy one.
Anthony Paoletti tossed four touchdowns passes to four different players and threw for 280 yards. The defense pitched a shutout and yielded only 107 yards of total offense to Penncrest (0-2 , 0-1 Central League). The comfort of winning, though, meant the most.
“Overall, we just had to bounce back from last week,” Paoletti said. “It was kind of a wake-up call for us last week. We obviously have high expectations for this year. Coming out with a loss, that was (tough).”
Florida State High’s 19-18 late comeback win over these Tigers (1-1, 1-0) was more than enough motivation to avoid a letdown. Paoletti made it that way.
He opened the scoring with a 47-yard bomb to favorite target Dash Dulgerian (six catches, 154 yards). Midway through the second quarter, he fired an absolute rope to Alden Mathes on a slant across the middle, and Mathes eased in for a 39-yard score. A long drive to begin the second half finished with a 12-yard weak-side lob to a wide-open Reilly Fillman. Paoletti’s night wrapped up on a six-yard touchdown to Kevin Merrone, fittingly caught off a tip from his own teammate.
“As I always say, Anthony is the kid you dream of coaching,” Marple Newtown coach Chris Gicking said. “He’s awesome. He’s a great leader on and off the field. It’s great to have him.”
Paoletti was aided on the ground by Marlon Weathers, who rushed for 98 yards and an early second quarter touchdown. The defense barely gave up anything — Penncrest completed but one pass and earned four first downs before the backups entered.
Even special teams, via the booming punts of Fillman, contributed.
“It was a really good team win,” Gicking said. “We got back to playing Marple football. It was good to get back. The Central League is always tough. It was good to get a Central League win.”
If there was one thing that went wrong, it was the five sacks against Paoletti. Some of that was brought on by the talented quarterback, some of it was due to an impressive Penncrest pass rush, with too many Lions being in the Marple backfield too often.
Afterward, Paoletti simply shrugged it off.
The linemen, he said, gather for “Fat Night” during the week to eat food and watch film. They will meet this week, gorge, and learn.
“They’re always working,” Paoletti said. “Five sacks, next week, it’s going to be limited.”
Penncrest, in its first year under coach Andrew Pidgeon, had some positive moments but was not yet ready for such an opponent. Caleb Mahalik rushed for 45 yards to front the offense.