By Anthony Sanfilippo, Delaware County Daily Times
September 12, 2009
“I can’t believe it’s been that long,” he said. “But then again, I can’t believe I’ve been coaching this long either.”
He was reflecting on a life of football after he finally won his 100th game as a coach Friday as his Marple Newtown Tigers knocked off Springfield, 24-6, in a last-minute home game.
It may have taken him 193 games to reach the century mark, but it’s a testament to his longevity teaching the sport he loves.
“It’s a nice feeling,” he said. “But this game wasn’t about me. It was about our defense and the great game plan (defensive coordinator) Lou D’Alonzo put together. It was about the fine quarterbacking of Kevin Johnson. It was about the versatility of Carl Kasarsky. It wasn’t about me at all. I’ve had my time in the spotlight. There were more deserving people to talk about than me.”
Ever so humble, in many respects he was right.
Johnson was superb in managing the game on the field, completing 75 percent of his passes and confusing the Cougars defense with his vast array of fake handoffs and misdirection.
The defense was impressive, pressuring Springfield quarterback Wally Rutecki from any and all angles, disguising its schemes and keeping the Springfield line off-balance.
Then there was Kasarsky, who was a true jack-of-all-trades.
He ran the ball as a power back eight times. He lined up a couple dozen times as a tight end, and burned the Springfield defense for five catches and 98 yards.
On the flip side, he led the Tigers in tackles and, if it was an official statistic in high school, sacked Rutecki once.
Then there’s special teams, where he serves as the long-snapper. He also beats most of his teammates downfield as evidenced by his hustling effort to down Billy Weaverling’s punt at the Springfield one-yard line.
“It’s my last year playing and I want to make the most of it,” said Kasarsky, a senior. “I love football, but after this year I might not get to ever play it again so I want to give my best effort and do as much as I can to help the team.”
He was especially key on third-down plays, which is when the Tigers really seemed to break Springfield’s spirit.
Marple finished 6-for-13 on third-down conversions, but was successful on five of the first seven tries, which is when they built their lead.
Junior Mario Dioguardi chewed up a lot of ground and got Marple on the board first with a 14-yard touchdown scamper around the left end in the first quarter.
Springfield answered quickly as Rutecki hit split end Denzel Thompson on a skinny post route for a 48-yard touchdown strike to get back within one.
But in an eerily similar circumstance to its game a week earlier, Springfield fell victim to a botched snap. This one caromed off punter Rob Tumelty’s hands and was pounced on in the end zone by Matt Gregory to give the Tigers a 14-6 lead.
After another punt gone awry, Marple stretched the lead to 15 just before halftime when Gregory caught a 9-yard pass from Johnson with 19 ticks remaining.
It was one of those days for the Cougars where all the little mistakes mounted until there was a steep hill to climb.
On top of the special-teams errors, the Cougars had a 50-yard touchdown run by Joe Devinney called back after an illegal block was called on one of his teammates.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” said Springfield coach Dan Ellis. “Our execution is not where it needs to be. Eventually that takes a toll on you. You can’t constantly try to come from behind. If you do, you’re going to be in trouble.”
As for Gionta, he’s thrilled with a 2-0 start for his team, especially after the team began last season 0-5. However, he’s not getting too pumped up just yet.
“We have a short week this week and we have to prepare for the University of Penncrest,” Gionta said. “So we can enjoy this now, but we have to get right back to work (Saturday).”