Marple Newtown rolls on a record-setting night

NEWTOWN SQUARE — Before the season, Adrian Sapnas would go around telling people that he was going to rush for 2,000 yards. Their response was simple.

“‘Sap, shut up,'” he recalled hearing. “Nobody believed.”

Well, they must now. The Marple Newtown standout running back rushed for a school-record 304 yards to finish the season with 2,094 in the Tigers’ record-setting 49-7 victory over Chichester Friday. Sapnas holds the program record for rushing yards in a season and in a career (2,923). Sapnas is the 21st player in county history to rush for 300 yards in a game. His 304 yards are 20th best all time.

His teammate, wide receiver Abel Hoff, caught eight balls to set the Delaware County record for receptions in a season — his 70 eclipses the mark set by Ridley’s Devon Preston. The Tigers also broke the program record for points in a season. Yup, it was a heck of a way to end a year.

“We’re really proud of the kids,’ Marple Newtown coach Chris Gicking said. “I was really proud of the way they came out here tonight and finished the season strong.’

Sapnas was a big reason for that. He tore up the Eagles on just 20 carries. He had 203 yards and two touchdowns by halftime and had the school’s single-season rushing mark in hand, passing what Steve Coyne did in 1983. In the second half, he touched the ball just three times — two went for touchdowns (32 and 65 yards, respectively). It was more than enough to breeze past Matt Moccia’s career mark, which was set from 2003-05.

The records brought back memories of a frustrating summer. A hamstring injury slowed Sapnas’ offseason. He didn’t feel right until mid-August, then after a re-aggravation, not until the first game. He wound up having one of the best season in Delaware County football history.

Not bad for a kid who came to Marple Newtown midway through his junior season.

“Hard work pays off,’ Sapnas said. “It’s the best memory I’ve ever had, by far.’

Sapnas’ first-half scoring runs of 62 and 47 yards put the Tigers up 14-0. Then, it turned into The Hoff Show. He caught touchdown passes of 18, 29 and 9 yards (all from Marcus Weathers) to put the Tigers up 35-0 at halftime.

A simple four-yard curl on Marple Newtown’s first possession of the second half gave him his eighth reception of the game, and the record.

“I didn’t even know there was a record for most receptions in a season (before this week),’ Hoff said. “I give all the credit to my teammates.’

The junior already set a program mark for receptions and is on his way to the career record. Gicking was cognizant of the individual achievements, but ending the season on a high note was the priority.

For Hoff and Sapnas to do it together made it extra-special for both. The two were the only Tigers to touch the ball in this blowout, which featured a running clock during the second half.

“I’m gonna miss playing with Adrian,’ Hoff said. “I’m so proud of him. He broke the record, in not even two full seasons.’

Gicking won’t be able to call Sapnas’ number anymore, but he will bring Hoff, Weathers and a handful of others back in 2015. The program, between freshman, junior varsity and varsity, won 17 games this season — 14 more than it did in 2013.

This season did not end where the Tigers wanted it to. But they can see the building blocks for the future.

“It’s not me personally,’ Gicking said. “The coaches have put in so much time. The assistant coaches and the kids deserve the credit.’

Chichester (3-7), which will close its season against Sun Valley on Thanksgiving, scored its touchdown on Dan Sullivan’s 1-yard run in the fourth quarter. The Eagles rushed for 225 yards in the contest.


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