NETHER PROVIDENCE — Adrian Sapnas was drenched in sweat and out of gas as Marple Newtown walked to the locker room at halftime Friday night at Strath Haven’s George L. King Field.
Sapnas had the look of someone who needed to volunteer for the ALS ice bucket challenge. On a sticky, humid night, it was easy for the senior running back to tire out. He almost couldn’t continue, his body breaking down.
“I felt dehydrated, like I was going to pass out,’ he said. “But I just kept on fighting and fighting. When I went into the locker room, I relaxed. I was like, you know what? My team needs me and I can’t quit on them no matter what. I was going to keep fighting it until I passed out.’
Well, thankfully it didn’t get to that point.
“We wanted to keep him cool,’ offensive tackler/linebacker Kyle Kelly said.
Sapnas was a machine. Half man, half amazing. A lightning rod. A beast. Pick a really cool sounding descriptor and that was Sapnas. He did it all, taking carry after carry to lead Marple Newtown to an impressive 22-14 victory over Strath Haven.
It was a significant win for Marple Newtown football, the program’s first against Strath Haven on the road since 1995, when first-year coach Chris Gicking was the team’s quarterback. In his second game, Gicking earned win No. 1 in his head coaching career.
Oh .. and there was Sapnas, who broke his rushing record from a week ago with 274 yards Friday night against the Panthers. Last week Sapnas amassed 257 rushing yards and two touchdowns in a loss at Academy Park. He accounted for all three TDs against Strath Haven, including the go-ahead 3-yard scoring scamper in the fourth quarter. Of the 50 plays the Tigers ran (not including punts), Sapnas got the ball 36 times — all carries out of the backfield.
“A lot of our guys missed blocks at times, but he still found ways to get the first down,’ Kelly said. “He just kept working and working.’
With the Tigers operating mostly out of the I-formation, Sapnas danced out of dangerous and often would turn nothing into something. He kept moving his legs and grinding out the yards. Strath Haven’s defense couldn’t keep up.
“I couldn’t have gotten (274 yards) without my line,’ Sapnas said. “I feel like it’s the hard work everyone has put in. It’s for the team. Yeah, it’s great. I’m not going to complain that I’m going down in the record books. But, I couldn’t have done it without my line.’
Sapnas, who transferred to Marple Newtown prior to his junior year, thought it was important to mention the role his father’s had in his playing career. Anthony Sapnas was a cornerback and running back at Temple in the late-1980s.
“My dad does everything for me and knows how great I can be,’ Sapnas said. “He got me into football at an early age. I love my dad to death.’
Marple converted a big fourth down early in the fourth quarter. Sapnas was wrapped up before the first down marker but kept pushing until he got four yards.
“Adrian is a special runner, but credit goes to everyone,’ Gicking said. “Extra special credit goes to the offensive line.’
After the Tigers went in front, the defense shined. Kelly, Matt Mckee, Gino DiCamillo, and Vince Ciavardelli excelled and forced the Panthers to turn the ball over on downs.
“No. 10 (Alex Bratsis) and No. 5 (Nick Milone) are great backs and we knew from the start that it was going to be tough to take them down,’ said Sapnas, a stalwart in the secondary for the Tigers.
Nick Milone took a punt return to the house and also rushed for a touchdown for Strath Haven, which committed three turnovers. Lucas Maas and Carmen Christian had interceptions for the Tigers.