CONCORD, PA – Anthony Paoletti posed for pictures with family members after Friday night’s 34-31 loss at Garnet Valley.
He looked as though he had been through the battle of his life. Limping to the bench, Marple Newtown’s senior quarterback received medical treatment.
He’s been hurt before, but Paoletti always comes back swinging.
Two hours earlier, the University of Delaware commit made Delaware County history when he broke the county career passing record on a 45-yard connection to his favorite target, Dash Dulgerian, in the first quarter. It was a simple out route that Dulgerian turned into a huge gainer. At the time Paoletti needed 29 yards to become Delco’s career passing champion.
Paoletti shattered a record that had stood for more than two decades. And it’s only fitting that it had belonged to his head coach, Chris Gicking, who passed for 5,897 yards for the Tigers from 1993-95. After Friday, Paoletti has 6,106 career passing yards, according to Daily Times records.
Shortly after he reached the milestone, Paoletti accepted a ball from Gicking in a passing of the torch moment, the player and coach embracing on the sideline.
“It was a real special moment,” Paoletti said. “Everybody dreams of this stuff, breaking records. I wouldn’t have cared if I got 43 yards (one yard shy of the record) tonight as long as we got the ‘W.’
“I would have liked to get the win, but this is obviously a great back-up.”
Paoletti had been chasing the record since he assumed the starting quarterback role midway through his sophomore season. He never gave too much thought about individual accolades, though, until he was reminded of them in the press and on social media. When he broke the single-season passing mark last fall, it happened during a seaason-ending playoff loss.
Paoletti was grateful, but understandably his mind was on other things.
That same bittersweet feeling was evident Friday night at Garnet Valley’s Moe DeFrank Stadium. The Tigers were in a slugfest with Garnet Valley, the No. 1 team in Delaware County. Paoletti enjoyed one of his best games of the season, completing 13 of 17 attempts for 252 yards and two touchdowns. He had a good rapport going with Dulgerian, who hauled in six catches for 170 yards and caught both TD passes.
It would have been nice had the Tigers (4-3) found a way to win despite being a heavy road underdog.
“I’m sure Anthony had the same comment as me. Obviously it’s a very special moment; credit to Anthony,” Gicking said. “It’s been a long time, I’m old. But I’m just really proud of Anthony. In this case, the record is an individual award but it’s also team award. He knows that, too. Of course it would’ve been better handing the ball to him and then getting the win.
“But he’s the kid you dream of coaching.”
Paoletti locked down the No. 1 job in Week 5 of the 2015 campaign. After four games of splitting time with fellow sophomore Bobby Siderio, who would transfer to Cardinal O’Hara, Paoletti went 20 of 33 for 219 yards and three touchdowns to lead an upstart Marple Newtown squad to a 40-0 rout of Lower Merion. It was Marple’s fifth of six consecutive wins to start the season. Paoletti never looked back.
Paoletti threw for 1,888 yards and 15 touchdowns as a sophomore. A record-breaking junior season followed in which he led the Tigers to within a game of playing for a District 1 Class 5A title. Along the way, Paoletti threw for 2,793 yards, breaking the county’s single-season record held for 26 years by former Ridley quarterback and head coach Dennis Decker (2,737 yards).
For now, Paoletti will worry about getting healthy in time for next week’s home game against another undefeated Central League foe, Springfield. “As I get older, I’ll learn to appreciate it more and more,” Paoletti said. “Tonight, we just wanted to win. I’m proud of the way we played and how everyone stuck together. I’m really excited for what the rest of the season holds for us.”