By Jon Campbell, Delaware County Times
September 08, 2007
An early indicator. It was the clear scenario entering Friday night’s Central League showdown between Marple Newtown and host Upper Darby.
Over the past few seasons, both teams have battled to crack the upper echelon of a league consistently ruled by the likes of Conestoga, Ridley and Strath Haven.
Upper Darby usually is the team that falls in amongst the heavies. But the winds of change do make their rounds. And Friday night, those winds seemingly breezed by the field on Lansdowne Avenue.
The Tigers rolled into Upper Darby as a team simply looking to move to 2-0. However, by soundly handling the Royals, 20-0, they may have rolled out as the team that stirs things up in the league in 2007.
“It’s like I said at the beginning of the season,” said Tigers quarterback Steve Giordano, who finished the night with 103 yards through the air and 50 on the ground with a touchdown. “We want to win them all. This game definitely makes us believe that a little more.”
Giordano orchestrated the Tigers sound offensive attack that struck early and put the Royals away as soon as they had their chance.
Starting on their 35-yard line after the game’s opening kickoff, Marple put together a nine-play drive that lasted four minutes and four seconds and ended with running back John Gallagher plunging into the endzone from five yards out.
After the Royals blocked the point-after attempt, the Tigers held a 6-0 advantage.
On the ensuing drive, the Tigers defense picked up where they left off from last week’s 21-3 win over Kennett.
The Royals (1-1) did march 32 yards, but had their drive stalled at the Tigers’ 38-yard line. In the end, it was their longest march of the night.
The drive was also one of only four times the Royals would see Marple’s side of the field and once was due to a recovered fumble and another was on the final drive of the game, with the result firmly cemented.
The Tigers contained the run and got to Royals quarterback Brian Thompson four times. Junior defensive end Brian Hulsey was a pest in the backfield all evening and finished with three sacks.
“I’m learning as I go,” said Hulsey, who moved his season sack total to five in two games. “This season is the first time I ever played defensive line. But I feel I’m getting better every week.”
After coming out of halftime with the six-point advantage, the Tigers wasted no time taking plenty of wind from the Upper Darby sideline.
First, the defense stayed strong and forced the Royals to punt after a three-and-out on the first drive of the half. Then, the offense went back to work.
After the Royals punt traveled only 26 yards, the Tigers received the ball at the opposition’s 48-yard line. Six plays later, they put their lead at double digits when Gallagher added his second touchdown, this one on a 20-yard scamper.
Giordano then put the game away on the Tigers next drive. On a well-timed quarterback keeper, the senior signal caller scurried around the right side and ran virtually untouched until he reached paydirt 39 yards later.
“This is a good win,” Tigers coach Ray Gionta said.”A great win. We don’t beat Upper Darby often. But this is something we’ll only savor until we watch film on Saturday.”