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Marple Newtown

Marple Newtown running back Marlon Weathers, center, brushes off a Ridley tackle last season. (Rick Kauffman – DFM file)

Young Tigers’ seasonal fate may depend on the Weathers

NEWTOWN TWP. >> Marlon Weathers, Alden Mathes, Tom Tobin and Sal Tartaglia were asked to do a lot for Marple Newtown as juniors last season and they delivered.

Weathers led all Delaware County backs in rushing (1,544 yards) and scoring (25 touchdowns), and was third on the team in receptions (22), receiving yards (262) and receiving touchdowns (four). He also averaged 20.8 yards per kickoff return en route to first-team All-Delco honors.

Mathes finished second on the squad in receptions (39), receiving yards (437) and touchdown receptions (five) and threw three TD passes when he had to fill in at quarterback for one game.
Tobin was second on the team in unassisted and total tackles (55 and 100, respectively) and led the team in assisted stops (45).

Tartaglia was the only underclassman on a line that paved the way for an offense that averaged 28.1 points and 331.6 yards per game.

As four of the five returning starters, Weathers, Mathes, Tobin and Tartaglia will have greater responsibilities in 2018. They’re being asked to take over the leadership role from a class that set the school record for wins (28) by a class in the 91-year history of the program.

They’re ready for the challenge.

“We have to be the leaders and show the young guys what it takes to play Marple football,” Weathers said. “We’re trying to be better than last year.”

That won’t be easy. The Tigers have a lot of holes to fill from a team that went 8-5 and lost to eventual champ Unionville in the semifinals of the District 1 Class 5A playoffs.

“We’re very young and inexperienced,” Marple Newtown coach Chris Gicking said. “Even some of the older kids who are going to play don’t have much experience. We’ll be relying on those guys a lot.”

Having Weathers back is a good place to start. He already holds the school record for career rushing yards (2,994, according to MN statistics) and his 25 TDs a year ago tied the single season record set by Steve Coyne in 1983, the year he earned Player of the Year honors from the Daily Times.

Weathers’ 252 carries showed he is more than capable of handling the physical load.

“Marlon is a special player, and he’s going to play an even bigger role than he has in the last three seasons,” Gicking said. “This year will be his biggest role because of the lack of returning starters that we have, but I know he can handle it. He’s a special kid, a special athlete and a special football player. We’re going to rely on him.”

The gauntlet has been laid down.

Marple Newtown will have to cope with the graduation of Delco career passing leader Anthony Paoletti. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)

“Sure, there’s pressure,” Weathers said. “I have to breathe, take it all in and keep rolling.”

The biggest area of change is at the quarterback position, where All-Delco Anthony Paoletti, the leading passer in Delco history, reigned for the last three years. He’s at Delaware now. Sophomores Joe Paoletti, Anthony’s brother, and Brian Joslin are dueling it out for the starting job.

“They’ve been battling it out all offseason,” Gicking said. “It’s a good battle. Competition brings out the best in a player. All we ask of them is to do the best they can and let the other guys lead and take care of business for them so that don’t have too much to worry about, whoever it is.”

Tough loss

The Tigers suffered one of their biggest losses in the spring and it had nothing to do with graduation. Starting linebacker Luke Jelus, the leading tackler on the team last season with 103 stops, suffered a torn ACL and is likely out for the season.

“The doctors say he’s out for the year, and he says he’ll be back,” Gicking said. “We’ll see.”

No position change

In the offseason, a lot of people wanted to know if Alden Mathes was going to be the heir apparent to Anthony Paoletti. He did play well in one game and was a big part of Marple Newtown’s run to the PIAA Class 5A baseball title last spring.

Marple Newtown’s Alden Mathes hauls in a pass in the second quarter of Marple Newtown’s 44-13 win over Lower Merion in 2017. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)

“If I had a dime for every time someone asked me that question I’d be rich,” Gicking said. “Alden is playing football, just not at QB.”

This and that

In four seasons, Gicking already is tied for seventh with Harry Miller for the most wins by a coach in program history (33). Ray Gionta is the all-time leader with 65 wins from 2003-13 … The Tigers play three of their first four games at home. The only road game is Sept. 9 against Lower Merion at Harriton. The Tigers also play at Harriton on Sept. 28.

Marple Newtown running back Marlon Weathers

PLAYER TO WATCH ON OFFENSE

Marlon Weathers >> He’ll be the go-to back for the third year in a row. Weathers needs six yards to become the first player in Marple Newtown history to rush for 3,000 yards in a career.
“I think my best attribute is being a complete back, being able to run, catch and block,” Weathers said. “Blocking is critical in our offense.”

PLAYER TO WATCH ON DEFENSE

Marple Newtown linebacker Tom Tobin

Tom Tobin >> Gicking called the defense the foundation of the team a year ago. As one of the few returning starters on that side of the ball, Tobin will anchor a linebacker corps that includes fellow senior AJ Katrakazis. “A lot is expected of me,” Tobin said. “I have to get the young kids in line, make sure they know what they’re doing. I know what they’re going through because it was hard on me when I first came in.”

-By Terry Toohey, ttoohey@delcotimes.com

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