Carroll’s Melito making a name for himself on the gridiron

RADNOR >> Think of the name “Melito” in these parts and it’s impossible not to picture a baseball diamond.

Sal Melito, the long-time Hall of Fame baseball manager has guided the fortunes of the Presidential Caterers American Legion team for 46 years.

Rich Melito was a standout baseball and football player at both Norristown High and Wagner College.

Rich’s son Rich, however, may not follow in those spiked steps.

These days, Rich is a standout leader for Archbishop Carroll High’s football team, a junior who was recently named to the first-team Class AAA All-Catholic team as both a fullback and linebacker.

The Patriots are not exactly tearing it up on the gridiron, although they will face Archbishop Wood Saturday (7 p.m.) for a trip to the Philadelphia Catholic League Class AAA championship game. But Melito sees the young Carroll squad as one that could be a force to reckon with in the near future.

“Last year was kind of a rocky season,” Melito said, “but this year I feel we’re actually building something.

“We’ve really stepped it up defensively. And our offense has improved, we just need a little more size.”

And in the middle of the small resurgence has been Melito, who has impressed all who have seen him, most of all his head coach, Joe Powel.

“He’s a football player, that’s the best way I can describe him,” Powel said. “He does everything the right way.

“He’s somebody the kids all gravitate towards for the way he plays, offensively and defensively.”

Powel said he played baseball for Sal Melito as a youngster, and that Rich (the father) was also on the team.

“I knew who Rich (the son) was when he was in eighth grade,” Powel said, “and I wanted him to come to Carroll.”

While he might not be around by the time it happens, Melito thinks the Patriots football team has a bright, promising future.

“There’s definitely progress being made,” he said. “We’re a young team, but we’re gaining experience, and we’re growing up in a good way.”

Which is what many are saying about Melito.

“He comes to work every day, he’s a terrific student and he’s just a great young man,” Powel said.

A lot of Melito’s motivation comes from his father Rich, who passed away eight years ago.

“I think about him a lot,” the younger Melito said. “He played at Wagner and was a great player, Every year I play for him. One day I’d like to be thought of as better than he was.”

At one time it was a given that Rich was headed to college to play baseball, but right now those plans may be on hold.

“For a long time I felt baseball was my favorite sport, ” he said, “but right now I’m at a crossroads.

“Now I feel whatever gets me to that next point in my life is what I’ll do.”

For the moment, however, Melito is focused on football, and particularly on the Patriots’ meeting with Wood, which he sees as a measuring stick for a young team looking to make a name for itself.

“I want us to have a year when we’re just not a three-win team,” he said. “I know Wood is going to be a tough game. Their quarterback (Aaron Russo) is terrific. He has a cannon for an arm and he has a good line to protect him.

“And I’ve always felt defense was their strong suit.”

However that game plays out, Melito said he’s really motivated to play Norristown, his dad’s alma mater, in a game that is slated for Nov. 21.

“It’s our last game,” he said, “and I’d really like to go in there and beat Dad’s team.”


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