NEWTOWN TWP. >> There will be tougher nights ahead for Marple Newtown, but Friday’s season opener was a significant first step nonetheless.
The Tigers, at Primo Hoagies Stadium, handled their visitors from KIPP DuBois Collegiate Academy, 43-0, with all the Tigers’ points coming in the first half.
Marple is coming off a semifinal appearance in the District 1 Class 5A semifinals and has hopes of competing once again for the Central League title. A blowout was in the cards.
“We just came out,” said running back Marlon Weathers, “and got right to it.”
Weathers was speaking of the team, but he might as well have been speaking about himself. He racked up 85 yards on just six carries and scored on rushes of 16 and 10 yards to spot the Tigers a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
“I feel like I have to be more of a leader and take over some games,” Weathers said. He was in control during his cameo before ceding the backfield to second stringers. He understood he needed to make a statement after rushing for 1,500 yards and 25 touchdowns a year ago.
“Last year’s over with,” he said. “It’s a new season, a new schedule, a new beginning with new expectations.”
On his penultimate run, Weathers, two plays after spinning out of the pile for a gain of 14, broke outside and sprinted 26 yards deep into Lions’ territory. He went out of bounds, then, standing in front of the student section, beckoned for more noise.
“It’s go-time now,” Weathers said.
Weathers’ long run set up Ryan Joslin, making his first start at quarterback, who scored from 14 yards out after a run fake. Joslin added a second touchdown with 7:55 to go in the half, which Andrew Cantwell followed with a pick-six 19 seconds later.
A safety and Joe Paoletti’s one-yard plunge completed the scoring. Marple took care of business, breathed easy and allowed the backups to get their feet wet. Charlie Box in particular was a standout. The freshman scatback accounted 44 yards of offense and recovered a Tigers fumble.
“It’s a great feeling, coming out and grounding and pounding, getting the young guys reps,” senior offensive lineman Sal Tartaglia said. “I was making sure we were hyped for them, because they were hyped for us.”
As the only holdover from last year’s starting line, Tartaglia was impressed with what he saw from the guys up front.
“We’re all on the same page,” he said. “I thought we had a great game.”
There was a lot to like from Marple’s perspective. But just having Tartaglia on the field was the highlight of the night. He battled Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in the offseason and only recently returned to action after defeating the disease.
“I’ve told everyone that the first thing I thought of when I was diagnosed was football,” Tartaglia said. “It’s the best feeling. I was on another level of hype. I realized how lucky I am to be alive and out here with my brothers.”
The Tigers face Radnor in a tricky Central League opener next week. For now, they’ll celebrate a strong start to the campaign, a return to form for Weathers and a return to normalcy for Tartaglia.
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