By Paul Vanderveer, Delco News Network
That Marple has that capability was demonstrated in last Friday evening’s opening game, 42-0 rout of visiting Sun Valley.
Leading the way in the long range strike department for the Tigers was senior running back Cimirrow Moat, who dashed 50 and 80 yards respectively for the contest’s first two touchdowns. That pair of one play “drives” deflated any spark that the Vanguards possessed in the early going, and enabled Marple to cruise to the impressive victory.
“We were excited to play tonight,” Moat said afterwards. “Our younger players showed that they can play, and our linemen did the job.”
Over the course of Gionta’s tenure, Marple has featured a number of solid running backs. As the main returning back from last season, it’s Moat’s turn to carry the primary load.
“Moat will obviously get more carries this time around,” Gionta pointed out. “He’s playing the fullback position in our offense. He had a great game tonight, but it’s only the first one. He will get better, and obviously the opposing defenses will pay more attention to him as the season goes along.”
Moat’s 255 yard rushing total certainly earned him “star of the game” honors, but there was plenty more for Gionta and his staff to appreciate from a somewhat unheralded group of players that featured plenty of new faces in the starting lineup.
“We’re very happy with the overall effort tonight,” Gionta commented. “Defensively, we played very well. We don’t have great size on defense, but we’re pretty quick.”
Marple’s defense prevented Sun Valley from getting anywhere near the end zone, showing good pursuit as they flowed to the ball. About the only thing that worked for the Vanguards were a couple reverse plays run by sophomore running back Ryan Riddle which took advantage of the Tigers’ aggressiveness.
Spearheading the Marple stop troops was senior defensive lineman Ken Smith, who sacked Valley quarterback T.J. Mancini on two occasions.
Also prominent for the Tigers’ defense were defensive linemen Chris Kurkian, Corey Power, and Connor Breslin, along with linebacker Parker Maas and defensive back Joe Vegso.
Leading 14-0 late in the second quarter, Marple put the game away with a nine play march that was culminated by a one yard scoring plunge by quarterback Jamie Ridinger.
Following intermission, Maas joined in the scoring parade with a 78 yard scamper of his own. Moat was to score once more from 23 yards out, and senior Tom Antista completed the onslaught with an 11 yard touchdown gallop.
As Moat was quick to point out, none of the backs’ efforts would have been fruitful without the offensive line play of Breslin, Power, Kurkian, Sean Ridinger, and Anthony Desiderio.
Over on the other sideline, it was a tough night for the Vanguards and first year head coach Jim Grugan. It’s no secret that the Vanguards have been struggling in recent seasons, so it will take some time for improvement to take hold.
In addition to his nifty running, Riddle intercepted a pass and also made a fine reception of his own. Senior Bill Hudson made a number of tackles from his defensive back post, and linebacker Matt oropeza, lineman Dan Griffin, and linebacker Blake Bertrand each made stops.
Marple will face tougher Central League foes in the near future. No one rated the Tigers as a contender prior to the season, so it will be interesting to see what’s in store for Gionta’s men.
“We’re not concerned with the expectations of other people,” said Moat. “We’re going to focus on each week’s game.”
Never blessed with overwhelming numbers in the past, Gionta was blessed to have a sizable turnout for this year’s team.
“The number of players we have is good,” said the veteran mentor. “A game like we had tonight gave us the chance to play some different people. We’ll have to develop them as we go forward.”
Given the prowess that Marple displayed on both sides of the ball against Sun Valley, the Tigers could roar at some opportune moments in a wide open Central League race.