MARPLE – This time a year ago, Marcus Weathers would have wagered that his view on senior night would have been from under center.
Instead, he enjoyed the last home game of his high school career as one of Marple Newtown’s star receivers. It’s been a strange senior season for Weathers, if only because of his offseason transition to a position he’d never before played.
Weathers factored in to Marple Newtown’s 21-0 win over Strath Haven, which all but certainly assures the Tigers of their first District One Class AAA playoff appearance since 2011.
The Tigers (8-2, 6-2) got a pair of first-quarter scores Abel Hoff, one on the ground and one through the air, before Weathers’ fourth-quarter touchdown put the finishing touches on the visiting Panthers (1-9, 1-7).
Weathers, the Tigers’ starting quarterback last season, remembers vividly the conversation he shared with Marple Newtown coach Chris Gicking after last season.
“I was surprised,” said Weathers, who’s drawn Division III recruiting interest. “It was going to be my second year in the system. I knew how to read defenses. I was convinced this was going to be a great year.
“It was in the summer league when (Gicking) told me he was going to transition me into a wide receiver. The way he sold me on it was, ‘We’ll have more weapons on the field.’ We have Abel, Chris (Rufo), and Carmen (Christiana), and now me.”
Weathers has found a way to contribute in Gicking’s offense, even in playing a position at which he’s completely green. The fifth-leading receiver in Delaware County, he has 37 catchers for 461 yards and four touchdowns.
Friday, Weathers’ touchdown came on the ground — on a direct snap out of the Wildcat formation. He also had four tackles for loss, as one of Marple Newtown’s starting linebackers.
“Running, receiving, he’s the kind of kid who will do just about everything to help us win,” Gicking said.
Marple Newtown outgained Strath Haven, 365-158, in total offense, despite the Panthers dominating time of possession. The visitors’ inability to keep drives alive, with coach Kevin Clancy’s team accumulating only nine first downs, aided Marple Newtown’s up-tempo offense.
Hoff, the county’s top receiver in both yardage and receptions, had two touchdowns in the first quarter to help Marple Newtown take control. His 2-yard score off a handoff from quarterback Anthony Paoletti put the Tigers up less than three minutes into the game. On the Tigers’ next drive, Paoletti found Hoff on a crossing route for a 31-yard touchdown.
Hoff sat out all but one play of the second half.
“On the opening kick return to start the second half, I made a cut and the kid hit my leg and I twisted my hip weird,” Hoff said. “I could’ve kept playing, but (the coaches) kept me out to preserve me for the playoffs.”
Speaking of the postseason, Marple Newtown — which entered the game as the district’s No. 7 seed in power rankings — is all but assured a postseason berth. The win over Strath Haven locked up the Tigers’ eighth eight-win season in program history.
The Tigers’ celebration afterward, if you can call it that, was sedate. Players patted one another on the helmet, shook hands, and jogged — heads down — to the post-game huddle.
“We still have work to do,” Weathers said.
For a guy who’s already put in a lot of work, that’s saying a lot.
“Going from a quarterback one year to a wide receiver the next, that’s not an easy transition to make,” Hoff said. “You need to be a great athlete to do it. I hope he can keep it going.”