By Bud Weaver, Delaware County Times
November 08, 2008
These Tigers, however, never gave into the negativity of a dismal record and never once thought about packing it in.
“We are coming together at the end of the season,” Marple Newtown head coach Ray Gionta said. “I’ve been here six years now and everybody who played at Marple Newtown plays hard. They’re coachable kids and we like the team. They are starting to jell now and I think they are a solid football team.”
While the Tigers won four of its last five to turn it around, it has more importantly started to put the pieces back in place and get adjusted as a team.
That team chemistry was evident Friday night as the Tigers cruised to a 38-6 nonleague victory over St. Pius X at Harry R. Harvey Field.
Once again, Marple Newtown (5-6) used a consistent ground attack to gain a majority of the yardage. Senior running back Phil Graziano again used his combination of speed and strength to total 132 rushing yards on 13 carries and three touchdowns — one via a kickoff return.
“He’s one of our fastest players,” Gionta said of Graziano. “He’s tough and goes 100 percent every game. He returns punts, he returns kicks, he plays defense … he doesn’t come off the field at all, and he epitomizes our football team, along with Dan Giordano and Nick Stephens.”
“It’s nice to have another win,” Graziano said. “We needed this one to (come closer to) a .500 record to break even. The line played well tonight. Now, we’re just ready for Academy Park next week.”
Besides Graziano, Stephens and Giordano picked up a touchdown with 40 yards on five carries and grabbed a 29-yard touchdown grab, respectively, to contribute to the offense that totaled 306 yards.
After Tigers quarterback Kevin Johnson hit the senior Giordano on a touchdown connection that gave the Tigers their first score, Stephens plowed in for a 4-yard score just under a minute into the second quarter.
With a 14-0 advantage, Marple Newtown kept the ball on the ground on its next drive, a seven-play, 78-yard series that was capped by Graziano dragging defenders and sidestepping into the end zone behind Giordano. The 14-yard touchdown run came with just over three minutes to play in the half.
To open the second half, the Tigers started right where they left off as Graziano took the kickoff back 86 yards for a touchdown to give them 28 unanswered points.
“Our coach always says that the most important possession of the game is the first possession of the second half,” Graziano said. “So it felt nice to score there. That was the first (kickoff return for a touchdown) all season, but we came close to breaking one every game.”
Midway through the fourth quarter, the Winged Lions (0-9) got on the board when quarterback Cole Parkinson found 6-3, 165-pound Dylan Pasik for a 19-yard touchdown pass. Parkinson ended with 159 total yards (100 rushing and 59 passing) and Dante Astheimer picked up 3.2 yards per carry (32 yards on 10 touches).
“On offense, we were able to move the ball well, but we made some mistakes on special teams and a couple of turnovers hurt us,” Pius head coach George Parkinson said.