By: David DiPasqua, Jr. via DiPasqua Sports
NEWTOWN SQUARE, PA. – At the end of the day, Abel Hoff will go down as one of the greatest Tigers to wear the orange and black.
On the field, Hoff delivered by being a two-time All Delco selection, breaking several county records, school records, and propelling the Tigers to their first District One Class AAA victory in program history.
However, it was his pursuit for perfection off the field that truly defined him as a leader. The records come and go, but it was the bond with his teammates that will truly last a lifetime.
Marple Newtown’s head coach Chris Gicking spoke highly of the two-time captain.
“Abel Hoff was not only a great player on the field, but off it as well. He was very dynamic and elusive. When people look back on Marple Newtown and Delaware County history, his name will be remembered forever.”
It’s hard to believe that back in his freshman year Hoff thought he would be a quarterback. That quickly changed when he was moved to wingback in the wing-t style offense under head coach Ray Gionta.
Hoff’s future appeared to be bright with 130 carries for 611 yards and 5 touchdowns as a sophomore. Out of the backfield, he also chipped in 11 receptions for 195 yards.
Philosophies changed in 2014 when Chris Gicking took over as head coach of the Tigers. Gicking brought a different type of offense, moving Hoff to the outside as the feature wide receiver. This is where Hoff truly thrived.
The 1-2 punch of Adrian Sapnas in the backfield and Hoff at receiver is particularly why Marple Newtown averaged 26.9 points that season.
As a junior, Hoff recorded 70 receptions to set a single-season Delaware County record. The previous record was held by Ridley product Devon Preston since 1990.
In total, Hoff posted 70 receptions for 774 yards and 10 touchdowns. Even though the statistics were recognized around the Central League, the Tigers’ failed to make the postseason. Hoff’s determination for the playoffs only grew heading into his senior campaign.
“We all (seniors) promised to hold each other accountable so we could accomplish our goals as a team.”
That meant a Central League Championship, a playoff win, and a District Championship in their eyes. Those were some high expectations heading into the season. However, they were on a mission and Hoff was ready to lead the way.
Coming off a Delaware County record with 70 receptions his junior year, Hoff knew that teams were specifically going to game plan around him.
He embraced the challenge of having a target on his back. His mindset entering the off-season was to simply get better everyday.
That meant waking up early in the morning to run routes on the turf, being in the weight-room to enhance his speed, and watch more film.
“I knew teams would try to double me by putting a safety over top of me along with the corner, so I would work on beating that all off-season in 7-on-7s and in practice.”
With a full off-season under his belt, Hoff was ready to make a difference.
“I loved being a second year receiver in coach’s passing attack because it all began to make sense and with the right execution the defense was always wrong.”
In his senior campaign, Hoff broke the county record once again by registering 72 catches for 1,119 yards and 10 touchdowns. On the ground, he had 96 rushes for 465 yards and 6 touchdowns as well.
Not only was Abel Hoff’s performance one to remember, but Marple Newtown went 8-2 and secured a playoff matchup with Pottstown.
The Tigers were all over Rick Pennypacker Field that night, defeating Pottsgrove by a final score of 20-7.
“The win against Pottsgrove is something that I would never forget. I still get goosebumps when I watch film of that game. It was the best feeling wining that game with our school there knowing how much work we had to put in to be able to do that.”
The victory proved to be the first District 1, Class AAA playoff win in the program’s 88 year history. Hoff led the way for the Tigers, whether that being a vocal leader or leading by example.
Overall, Hoff wanted to build “a culture or a blueprint for success” that can be passed down when he leaves the program. The first playoff win in program history is a good start.
Hoff will play collegiately this fall at Shippensburg University under head coach Mark Maciejewski. The Red Raiders went 8-3 in their 2015 campaign and have high hopes coming into this season.
“Playing at Shippensburg is something I have been excited about non-stop ever since I committed back in January because I know I’m one step closer to accomplishing my goal of playing professionally.”
Competing collegiately is one step closer to that goal, especially in Shippensburg’s spread offense. In a similar scheme to coach Gicking’s offense, Hoff believes he will be utilized the same way he was in high school.
Inserting the Delaware County receptions record holder into the offense provides even more firepower to a team that averaged 44.1 points per game a season ago.
Additionally, he believes that he will have an immediate impact at the next level in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.
“I plan to come into camp and compete right away. I have been preparing myself for what I expect to be the most challenging training camp of my life. We have a very talented recruiting class coming in and I’m excited to see the level of success we will reach.”
Before Hoff ships off to play collegiately, he was fortunate enough to participate in the PSFCA East/West game on May 2nd, which featured some of the top players in Pennsylvania.
The Marple Newtown wide receiver reeled in 4 receptions for 60 yards in the East’s 20-19 victory over the West.
“It happened to be one of the funnest games I have ever been apart of. The best part was being able to build relationships with other players in the state who are also playing college football, so it had a college feel to it.”
The Shippensburg commit was also honored as the 2015-16 Pennsylvania Mini Maxwell Award winner. Players are evaluated for this honor based on football performance, academics, and community service. This award speaks to the type of character Hoff possesses.
“It was great to recognized by the state for my accomplishments among some really impressive company,” Hoff stated.
In terms of Delaware County history, Hoff secured second place all-time with 153 carer receptions in the county, while also ranking fifth with a career 2,088 receiving yards.
Additionally, Hoff rewrote the record books for Marple Newtown in terms of receiving.
He now owns four records: career receiving yards, receiving yards in a season, career receptions, and receptions in a season.
For career receiving yards, Hoff broke Matt Barr’s record of 1,629 that transpired back in 1989. Hoff now has it set at 2,088 yards.
Hoff is also in sole possession of first place in receiving yards for a season, particularly due to his senior season. He racked up 72 receptions for 1,119 yards, breaking Paul Brown’s 1,000 yards in 1995.
The previous holder for receptions in a career was Mike Maiocco, who hauled in 101 receptions from 1993-95. Hoff finished with a total of 153 receptions as a Tiger from 2013-15.
Lastly, Hoff broke his own record from a season ago, tacking on two more receptions. He finished with 72 receptions in 2015.
During Abel Hoff’s tenure at Marple Newtown, he truly embodied the meaning of “Tiger Pride.” This phrase has multiple meanings, but it showcases the hard-work and a sense of pride everyone has in the Marple Newtown community.
Hoff’s last remarks were how “playing for this year’s Marple Newtown team was an unforgettable experience. I built a bond with my teammates that can never be broken and we all established a sense of ‘Tiger Pride’ that will stay with us the rest of our lives.”
Your last chance to see Hoff in action at the high school level is at the Hero Bowl. The annual Delaware County High School All-Star Football Game, will be played on Thursday, June 2nd, 2016 at Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield, PA. Pre-game activities will begin at 7 PM. Kick-off is scheduled for 7:30 PM.