Box saves best for last to help Marple Newtown go out a winner

NEWTOWN SQUARE — Charlie Box wasn’t sitting this one out.

The Marple Newtown senior wasn’t about to let a recent ankle issue keep him from taking the field against Penncrest Wednesday night, even though the last time Box was able to run was in the Tigers’ loss to Strath Haven in the District 1 Class 5A quarterfinals nearly two weeks ago.

“This was my last game and I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Box said. “There’s nothing like football so I had to go out there and give it my all.”

Not just the last game of his scholastic career but potentially his last football game ever, as Box is headed to Cornell to play lacrosse. If this was his swan song, he surely went out with a bang.

Box amassed 295 yards of total offense and scored twice as the Tigers (9-4) closed with a 39-18 victory over the Lions at Harry R. Harvey Field.

Box carried the ball 28 times for 183 yards, including touchdown runs of 1 and 36 yards. He caught five passes for 112 yards. He accounted for 83 percent of Marple Newtown’s rushing yards (220 yards) and nearly 70 percent of the team’s total yards (424).

“It was just Charlie doing Charlie things,” said teammate Eric McKee, who caught a pair of touchdown passes from Dave Bertoline.

McKee wasn’t surprised with the numbers Box put up in his final game.

“I’ve been playing with him since I was 8-, 9-year’s old (with the Marple Junior Tigers),” McKee said. “He’s been doing it since then.”

Box did most of his damage in the second half to break the game open. The Lions (1-10) hung tough in the first half thanks to a 47-yard touchdown pass from Nick Chelo to Jimmy Cage, a 1-yard run by Chelo and a defense that forced three turnovers.

That’s when Box went to work. He had 97 of his rushing yards, 93 of his receiving yards and both of his touchdowns in the third quarter as the Tigers put up 21 points to extend a 15-12 halftime advantage to 36-12 heading into the fourth quarter.

Box muscled in from a yard out to give MN a 21-12 cushion and then sprinted 36 yards to increase the advantage to 24 points.

“He’s unstoppable,” Chelo said of Box. “He’s a beast. He’s one of the best players I’ve played against my whole high school career. He’s something else.”

Box was fresh for the second half because he limited his playing time to offense, cutting out his usual duties on special teams and at safety.

“They think it might be possible fractures, we’ll see,” Box said of his ankle issues. “I just held off so I could give that little extra effort tonight.”

That extra effort allowed Box to save his best for last. Or maybe not last?

“I’m going to miss (football) so much,” Box said. “You never know. It might be in the future. After college, after I graduate from Cornell, I may go somewhere else and play for a year. It’s not out of the picture yet.”

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