SHARON HILL, PA – The record mattered little to him, the loss weighed heavy. In a 26-7 defeat to Academy Park in the District 1 Class 5A semifinals, Marple Newtown’s Anthony Paoletti became the most prolific single-season passer in Delaware County high school football history. Still, there was no pause for celebration.
“It’s a great achievement,” said Paoletti, “but that means nothing to me right now.”
Soon enough he may look back and realize just how special his season was. A 20-yard slant to Cameron Mathes in the third quarter put Paoletti past Dennis Decker’s 26-year-old mark of 2,737 for good. Ironically enough, the quarterback completed that drive with a five-yard touchdown scamper to give the Tigers their only score of the night.
Perhaps that’s appropriate. Paoletti is so much more than a passer to this Marple team. Just ask Tigers’ head coach Chris Gicking.
“He’s everything you want in a quarterback, obviously, and everything you want in a kid, or a son or a teammate,” Gicking said. “You could go on and on about Anthony.
“Unbelievable, Anthony’s just unbelievable.”
Both Gicking and Paoletti called it a team record, and it’s not hard to see why. His bond with his receivers in particular made the offense as potent as it’s been since Gicking lined up under center. Take Carmen Christiana, for example, who made a diving, sliding catch over the middle that wowed those in attendance at Knight Park. It was a rare thing in the Philadelphia area these days: A wideout making a play for his quarterback.
“I played with Carmen since I was five years old. He and I have been best friends ever since,” a grateful Paoletti said. “I can’t say enough about that kid. I’m going to miss playing with him. I’ve been playing with him for 10 years. Ten years. We’re going to have a bond for life.”
Paoletti finished 14 of 27 with 214 yards through the air to bring his season total to 2,793. The collection of passes showcased his talents; a deft touch, a tight spiral, well-timed deep balls.
He entered the night 158 yards short of Decker and quickly put any doubts to bed about whether or not he would break the record. Paoletti’s first pass of the game came on a third-and-18 from his own 32. He ran right out of the pocket and fired a dart across his body to a wide open Christiana for 25 yards and first down. Paoletti was well on his way.
But the Knights’ defensive line dominated in the trenches. The hosts finished with seven sacks and picked off Paoletti twice in the fourth quarter as he attempted to mount a comeback.
Now, the junior heads into the offseason with added motivation and new benchmarks to clear: His own single-season record and his coach’s career Delaware County mark of 5,897 yards. Paoletti is already at 4,681.
“Next year’s team, we’re going to be busy,” Paoletti said. “Listen, the offseason, we’re going back to work. We’re going to do what these seniors did for us. We’re going to do it for them.”