By John Lohn, Delaware County Times
September 27, 2007
During the past three years, Marple Newtown has shifted from also-ran status in the Central League to a top-tier program.
For proof, look no further than the Tigers’ 22 victories from 2004-06 and the Class AAA playoff berth that was corralled last season. As for this year, Marple is once again rolling along, having opened the season with a four-game winning streak.
Posting their second shutout of the campaign last week, 35-0 over Springfield, the Tigers have outscored the opposition by a ridiculous margin, 138-9. The offense is hitting for 34.5 points and 367.2 yards per game while the defense is holding foes to 125.7 yards per contest, the top mark in Delaware County. This weekend, Marple will square off with Strath Haven.
In his fifth season in charge, Ray Gionta has done a phenomenal job, but not just with offensive and defensive scheming. He has also elevated the confidence level of the players. Still, Marple adheres to a measured approach, not jumping too far ahead. Even this undefeated opening has been met with humility.
“It’s a good start and the kids are confident, but it’s only four games,” Gionta said. “We have Strath Haven this week and the rest of the league is tough. In the offseason, we thought if everything went right, we might have a chance to be here. But you never know how things are going to play out.”
While at Marple, Gionta has benefited from the contributions of defensive coordinator Lou D’Alonzo. The defensive guru has routinely had Marple ranked among the Delco leaders in scoring defense and total defense. This fall, D’Alonzo’s unit has been paced by defensive end Pete Massaro, a Penn State recruit, and inside linebacker Dan Giordano, the team’s leading tackler. Cornerback Brandon Rook has a pair of interceptions.
Defensive tackles Jay Trio and Rob Gow and Brian Hulsey (defensive end) have added a spark up front and the linebacking corps has been solidified by Sam Hafez on the inside and the outside tandem of John Rutecki and Ken Clark. John Gallagher (safety) and Phil Graziano (cornerback) have aided the secondary.
“The kids love him. He has a great personality and a way with the kids,” Gionta said of D’Alonzo. “I’m the fire and he’s the ice. He’s very experienced and always comes up with something for the offenses we see. His defenses are always fundamentally sound.”