By AL THOMPSON
Special to the Times
NEWTOWN SQUARE — Marple Newtown coach Ray Gionta and his assistants told their players to enjoy their 42-7 win Friday over Lower Merion.
The coach said to his players to take it easy for the rest of the weekend and that it was back to work for practice Monday.
Gionta would not, however, allow himself the same indulgence, even after the Tigers’ lopsided win made him the winingest coach in school history. Last night was Win No. 58 for Gionta, surpassing Jim Smith, who coached Marple Newtown in the 1970s.
The coach wanted nothing to do with the record and he meant it.
“I’d rather not talk about it,” Gionta said. “It’s about the kids. For most of them it’s their first win in a varsity football game. It reminded me of my first win as a player in 1969 at St. James in Chester. I don’t know what to say. We’ve had nice kids here over the years, we’ve had good coaches here, great backing by the administration, but mostly it’s been a bunch if really good kids.”
Gionta’s kids, particularly his offensive line and running backs, put on a really good show for the home crowd Friday night.
Junior running back Mike White exploded for five touchdowns, four on the ground and one through the air. White caught a tipped 24-yard pass from Thomas Davis to open the scoring.
White finished with 120 yards on 15 carries.
“The offensive line did a good job,” Gionta said. “They did a fairly good job last week too.” The coach was referring to his team’s turnover-plagued loss to Academy Park. Gionta singled out linemen Corey Power, Edward Graham, Andrew McHale, Kevin Rafferty Tom Panczner, Markos Katrakazis plus tight ends Craig Hamilton and Joe Vegso.
Gionta said he was just glad to get back in the win column, especially with the tough games his team will be facing for the rest of the season.
“We needed a win,” he said. “I’ve heard it said in the football world that you improve from your first game to your second game. Hopefully that is the case today. We had some improvement today especially in our kicking game, and also with our defense and our offense too. We can get better each week and hopefully get a few more weeks.”
In addition to White’s big night, senior Anthony Rosanio rushed eight times for 108 yards and a score and Ross Binder added 25 yards on four carries.
Davis went 3-for-7 for 45 yards and a touchdown.
Lower Merion (0-2) was led by Ernest Pendleton, who rushed 21 times for 89 yards.
White said his linemen allowed him and the other running backs to turn the corner and produce big gains that included Rosanio’s 60-yard romp to the end zone that started the running clock in the fourth quarter.
Marple Newtown’s defense forced five turnovers, including four fumbles. Tigers linebacker Parker Maas intercepted Anton Novehrends to end the game.
“We ran the ball to the outside well,” White said. “Last week we didn’t push the ball as well as we can, the offensive line bounced back real well this week. “
White said the win was good for the team’s confidence going into the rest of the Central League season.
“We’re feeling good,” White said. “We’re 1-1 now and we will see what happens.”