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Early Marple score doesn’t slow Garnet Valley’s steady march

CONCORD —  Garnet Valley has enough depth and talent to frustrate any team in the area.

Marple Newtown, while putting up a valiant fight in the first half with an incredible opening drive, can be added to that list after the Tigers dropped a 42-7 decision to the Jaguars.

To say that the host Jaguars were overwhelming on the night would be an understatement. They racked up 371 yards of total offense and used their fast-paced and physical style to wear down the Tigers.

“(Marple Newtown was) really smart with what they did on offense,” Garnet Valley coach Mike Ricci said. “They let the play clock run out, they had short, little passes and had a 25-play drive. I don’t think anyone’s ever done that against us before. They had three fourth-down conversions, kept the game tight, and kept our offense off the field. After that drive we made some adjustments.”

Despite the early scare, Garnet Valley was dominant from start-to-finish offensively. The Jaguars’ offensive line was excellent, their ball-carriers were, too. Jason Bernard (68 yards), Ryan Saunders (74 yards), and quarterback Max Busenkell (31 yards rushing, 95 yards passing), all had first half touchdowns, but it was the 75-yard scoring strike from Busenkell to Joey Halloran in the third quarter that broke the game open.

“My first thought was that I’ve got to catch this,” Halloran said with a laugh about finding himself so wide open. “Luckily I was able to, but the coaches were making fun of me. They didn’t know I was fast like that.”

The Jaguars’ offensive line of Nolan Brennan, Austin Sorokanych, Nick Mahoney, Sam Di Trolio, and Ben Nash teamed with tight ends Will Wrzesniewski, Halloran, and Andrew Jackalous to control play.

Busenkell and Joseph Checchio sandwiched touchdown runs around a safety to close out the scoring for the Jags.

Defensively for the Jags, Brennan had two sacks, while Wrzesniewski, Jackalous, and Drew Van Horn each had one.

“Marple really pushed us hard and we were talking after the game about how we never saw a drive that long before,” Halloran said. “We knew in the second quarter when it was 7-7 that we needed to get back to work. We have a great veteran group with great coaches.”

Marple Newtown tried to offset Garnet Valley’s tempo by using a steady diet of running back Charlie Box and a creative passing attack led by sophomore quarterback David Bertoline.

Bertoline was extremely impressive. When working with Box and receivers Michael Schumacher and Eric McKee, the Tigers were able to threaten the Jaguars defense at times. Even in the losing effort, Marple Newtown showed tremendous fortitude and a lot of creativity on offense.

“Our kids will always play their butts off and we will always bring energy, intensity, and enthusiasm,” Marple Newtown coach Chris Gicking said. “Garnet Valley is obviously a great team. I’m proud of our effort, but credit to them. I think we started six or seven sophomores and that is a credit to our senior class who sets the tempo. We have to get better this week at practice, so we are ready Friday night against Penncrest. We’re happy to finally have a home game next week after three straight games on the road.”

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