NEWTOWN TWP. >> The 2016 Marple Newtown football season was one filled with superlatives.
“It was the most successful season in Marple Newtown history,” head coach Chris Gicking said of his 2016 Tigers’ 11-2 record. “We had a share of the Central League title for the first time since 1977, we had our first home playoff win in school history, and we (got) to the district semifinals.
“We had a great senior class, which left with the most wins in school history in three years – 25. And five of those players will be playing college football.”
There’s been no time to bemoan the fact that all those good things are in the past. Marple Newtown has been at work preparing to open its season Friday at the Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida, taking on Florida High of Tallahassee.
“It will be their second game of the season,” Gicking said.
After that, the focus will turn to the Central League opponents on the schedule, with Penncrest the first to visit and compete on the Tigers’ new turf playing surface.
“We’re working hard,” Gicking said. “We’ll try to replace the seniors that we lost the best we can. This is my fourth year, and this senior class came in when we as a staff took over.”
Gicking, who set the Delaware County record for career passing yardage (5,897 yards) while earning Delaware County Player of the Year honors at Marple Newtown in 1995, won’t mind seeing his record eclipsed this season.
Senior Anthony Paoletti (6-2, 210), who has committed to the University of Delaware, has thrown for 4,681 yards in his two varsity seasons. He broke the county single-season record with 2,793 throwing yards in 2016, when he accounted for 33 touchdowns – 25 in the air – and earned All-Delco honors.
“Last year was awesome, but we have to expect more this year and go after it,” Paoletti said.
Senior Dash Dulgerian (6-1, 210) caught 42 passes for 888 yards and 10 touchdowns, and junior Marlon Weathers (6-0, 185) picked up 1,130 yards rushing and had 17 TDs last fall.
Among the other returning Tigers are defensive linemen Kyle Tobin (72 tackles, seven sacks) and Mike Miller (56 tackles, six sacks), linebackers Al Katrakazis (52 tackles) and Luke Cantwell (50 tackles), and punter Reilly Fillman, who averaged 39.5 yards per kick.
“We really got into it last year,” Miller said. “We have to put things together again this year and try to go further than we did.”
Marple Newtown 2017 Schedule
The offense looks to returning linemen Kevin Hahn (6-4, 240), Mike Shelly (6-0, 250), Luke Zimmerman (6-0, 230), and James Diamond (5-11, 230) as well as running back Jack Fallows.
Among the newcomers are linemen Sean Standen (6-3, 260), Jimmy Geraghty (5-11, 200), Joe McMaster (6-1, 230), Liam Ferry (6-2, 210), Fotis Kotopoulos (6-1, 250), Sal Tartaglia (5-10, 200), Blake Turnier (6-2, 185), Jim Openshaw (5-11, 225), and A.J. Grosso (6-1, 230).
New faces on defense will include linebackers Mike Avellino and Tom Tobin and backs Jake Simpson and Cameron Leone. Alden Mathes and Seth Moyer can play quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back.
Among the other receivers will be Kevin Merrone, Colin Ferry, Luke Nichols and Joe Keffer, and Luke Jelus is a running back.
“Last year was awesome, especially seeing the way these guys have come along since they were playing for the Marple Junior Tigers,” Gicking said. “It was tough seeing so many good guys go, but we’ve identified the areas where we know we have to get better and hope everyone wants to have an even better season than we had last year.
“We lost in the district semifinals, so we came in expecting to work even harder if we want to take the next step and to get to the (district) finals.”
Florida High, Marple Newtown’s first opponent, is associated with Florida State University. Jarrod Hickman, in his 14th season as head coach at his alma mater, was a four-year starter in football, three-year starter and basketball and two-time state champion in the pole vault at the school. Among the school’s former players is Garrett McGhin, a 6-6, 327-pound starting offensive guard at East Carolina University.
By Harry Chaykun; For Pa Prep Live
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