By Anthony J. Sanfilippo, Delaware County Daily Times
October 17, 2009
In a game filled with hard running, hard hitting and hard rain, Warden spearheaded a fine defensive effort on the part of the Jags. He made three key tackles during a goal-line stand and later blew up a Marple drive in the fourth quarter to preserve a 7-0 Garnet Valley win at Harry R. Harvey field.
Looking to set the tempo of the game on the opening drive in the second half, Marple used an array of misdirection runs to get a first down inside the Garnet Valley 10-yard line.
As they got closer, Warden got tougher. He exploded through a block on second down, sending Mario Dioguardi for a one-yard loss. He dragged down the speedy Ryan White on a sweep and on fourth down, he buried Tigers quarterback Kevin Johnson three yards from the end zone, assuring the zero remained underneath “Home” on the scoreboard.
“We knew we had to make the stops,” Warden said. “It was our responsibility. When that all comes together the mentality is there and we know we can stop anyone.”
It was nice of Warden to include his teammates, and to their credit they were partially responsible for the shutout, but Warden was the difference maker.
“He’s been outstanding all year and he did it again tonight,” Garnet Valley coach Mike Ricci said of his senior linebacker. “He’s a big play guy. He’s fun to watch play.”
In the fourth quarter, with Marple driving again, Warden noticed a gap in the Marple offensive line and took advantage of it on a second down play, sacking Johnson before he could hand off the football to Dioguardi.
The sack forced the Tigers into a third and long and on the next play, Johnson was intercepted by senior safety Ryan Woods, and Garnet Valley never gave the Tigers the ball back, running out the clock.
Offensively, Alex Warden did most of the work for the Jaguars, picking up 99 yards on the ground on 15 carries. When he wasn’t pounding the ball up the middle, Marcellus Irving was taking it to the outside, where the game’s lone score came — a 15-yard scamper by Irving late in the first quarter.
Garnet Valley (6-1) got great field position on the lone scoring drive when a snap sailed 30 yards over punter Billy Weaverling’s head. Mistakes like that crushed the Tigers (5-2).
“We weren’t able to come up with the big play and we made mistakes at crucial times that hurt us,” Tigers coach Ray Gionta said. “Not just the kids, but the coaches made some mistakes, too. We have to take this, try to improve and do better next week.”
A mistake by the officials may have hurt Marple Newtown, too. On the drive that ended three-yards short of the end zone, the Tigers had a second-and-five from the Garnet Valley 41. An inadvertent whistle negated the ensuing play and the referee called for a do-over. However, the ball was instead spotted on the 44 instead of the 41. Despite protests from Gionta, the spot remained. In the end, the three yards were the difference between a tie and a loss.
Of course, with the game Eric Warden had, those three yards might not have mattered.
“Sometimes the offense relies on the defense and sometimes the defense relies on the offense,” Warden said. “Tonight, we were the ones that needed to make the big plays, but next time it’ll be their turn.”