By John Lohn, Delaware County Daily Times
September 16, 2009
Thursday night, coach Ray Gionta will take his squad to Louis W. Scott Field for a Central League matchup against Penncrest. The Lions are among the favorites to win the Central title and how the Tigers fare in their first showdown of the season could determine if Gionta has a Class AAA playoff hopeful.
“This is going to be a big test,” said Gionta, who earned his 100th career win against Springfield. “We’re going to see a very good team with a lot of skill talent. We’re in for a challenge and it’s going to be a measurement of where we are. For the most part, we have a low-key bunch of kids. But we’ll be ready.”
Not surprising, Marple has benefited from a staunch defense that has yielded only six points. Defensive coordinator Lou D’Alonzo has done a superb job under Gionta for years, always getting the most out of athletes frequently required to play ironman football. After holding Archbishop Ryan to 146 yards in a Week 1 shutout, the Tigers limited Springfield to 213 yards last week.
Brian Kelly has excelled at linebacker, along with Carl Kasarsky and Vince Christiana. Ryan White has been a steady influence in the secondary. On the other side of the ball, Kevin Johnson has been a reliable leader at quarterback, throwing for 224 yards and two touchdowns. Under Gionta, Marple has never been overly air-oriented.
“What he does a good job of is managing the game,” Gionta said of Johnson. “He’s throwing the ball well. If it’s there, we’ll keep throwing.”