By Andy Edwards
TREDYFFRIN — Chris Gicking knows better than anyone how dangerous Conestoga’s offense can be.
After all, Marple Newtown’s first-year head coach spent the last seven years as the Pioneers’ offensive coordinator. On Friday, Gicking watched Conestoga put everything together like so many nights before — only this time, he found himself on the opposite sideline.
Tim Miller threw more touchdowns (3) than incompletions (2), Parke Schweiter (175) and Corey Manning (100) each rushed for 100 yards, and Conestoga racked up 435 yards of offense en route to a 42-28 Central League victory in a reunion of old friends.
Chris Gicking and his father Harry, who served as Conestoga’s defensive coordinator from 2000-2012 and its head coach from 1983-1988, had no answers for the Pioneers (4-2, 5-2), who punted only once and otherwise only failed to find the end zone on clock-killing drives to end both halves.
“We just needed to crave the goal line,’ said Schweiter, who carried 27 times for 175 yards and a touchdown as Conestoga snapped a two-game skid. “We executed very well.’
Pencil that in as an early nominee for understatement of the year. The Pioneers hit paydirt on their first four possessions, putting together marches of 80, 80, 71, and 36 yards (in two plays) to jump out to a 28-7 lead, and were never really threatened in climbing into a tie with Marple Newtown and Ridley for fourth place in the crowded Central League.
Senior wideout Martin Dorsey caught five balls for 79 yards and two touchdowns for Conestoga, capping the game’s first drive by coming down with a jump ball for a 30-yard connection with Miller.
After the Tigers (4-2, 4-3) answered with an 18-yard scamper by standout running back Adrian Sapnas, Delaware County’s rushing leader by a wide margin, the Pioneers went to their own ground game to take control.
Manning carried six times for 43 yards on the ensuing drive, putting Conestoga ahead, 14-7, on a five-yard rumble. The Pioneers then forced a three-and-out and fed Schweiter all the way home, calling the senior tailback’s number on every down of a 9-play, 71-yard drive that gave the home side a 21-7 lead early in the second quarter.
The Conestoga defense rose up on Marple’s next possession, when senior linebacker Matt Prestipino sacked Tiger quarterback Marcus Weathers on fourth down from the Pioneers’ 40. Two plays later, Manning found a crease and sped 36 yards to the end zone for his second touchdown of the night.
“This was huge,’ said Schweiter. “It was a little more than just a football game for us. We knew it would be a battle because we now each other so well, and we rose to the occasion.’
Sapnas carried 33 times for 205 yards and two touchdowns for Marple Newtown. It was the fourth 200-yard performance of the season for the senior, who now has 1,392 yards on the season. The Tigers just had no answer on the other side of the ball.
“It was an odd, weird feeling (playing against Conestoga),’ Chris Gicking said. “Obviously it’s not about us, but the kids on the field. They made some big plays when they needed to. That’s a very good football team.’
Miller, a junior, finished 8-of-10 for 159 yards and three scores for the Pioneers, including a 34-yard strike to D’Lyndon Coleman on their first drive of the second half.
Weathers was 6-for-7 for 95 yards and two touchdowns for Marple Newtown, with Abel Hoff catching four of those passes for 71 yards, including a 47-yard score just before intermission.
Marple Newtown 7 7 0 14 — 28
Conestoga 14 14 7 7 — 42
C — Dorsey 30 pass from Miller (Rueger kick)
M — Sapnas 18 run (Lambritsios kick)
C — Manning 5 run (Rueger kick)
C — Schweiter 3 run (Rueger kick)
C — Manning 36 run (Rueger kick)
M — Hoff 47 pass from Weathers (Lambritsios kick)
C — Coleman 34 pass from Miller (Rueger kick)
M — Sapnas 15 run (Lambritsios kick)
C — Dorsey 4 pass from Miller (Rueger kick)
M — Kostack 20 pass from Weathers (Lambritsios kick)
First downs 15 24
Rushes-yards 44-210 44-276
Passing 6-7-0 8-10-0
Passing yards 95 159
Total yards 305 435
Punts 2-33.5 1-25.0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 6-40 4-33
Rushing — Marple Newtown: Sapnas 33-205, 2 TD; Hoff 2-6; Weathers 9-(-1). Conestoga: Schweiter 27-175, TD; Manning 12-100, 2 TD; Miller 5-1.
Passing — Marple Newtown: Weathers 6-7-0, 95 yards, 2 TD. Conestoga: Miller 8-10-0, 159 yards, 3 TD.
Receiving — Marple Newtown: Hoff 4-71, TD; Kostack 1-20, TD; Christiana 1-6. Conestoga: Dorsey 5-79, 2 TD; Coleman 2-47, TD; Jean 1-33.
Sacks — Marple Newtown: None. Conestoga: Watson, Prestipino.
Interceptions — None.