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By David DiPasqua, Jr. | Tigers Radio Network

NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. – High school football fans can breathe a sigh of relief as part of the 2020 season will be salvaged. A decision has been made to return to play despite the coronavirus pandemic. 

With student-athletes returning to the gridiron, all eyes are on the Tigers’ junior Charlie Box during this upcoming condensed season. His sensational sophomore campaign resulted in team highs in yards, receptions, interceptions, and touchdowns. Box is simply one of the countless high school student-athletes in the area counting down the days until kickoff. 

“We’ve been working harder than ever this year,” said Box who was grateful for the opportunity to play. “We’re more than ready to go out there and win games.”  

Marple Newtown is among several teams in the Central Athletic League who elected to bring back football with the official opener taking place on Friday, October 23rd. 

When asked about the pandemic, Box elected to point out the positives. He took advantage of the pandemic by working hard every single day to improve academically in addition to on the field. Student-athletes were put in a tough spot, but that didn’t stop him or anyone else from getting better. 

This can be attributed to his work ethic, which is why he is one of the leaders on this squad. The combination of lifting to go along with speed and agility drills have set him and his teammates up for success. 

Another bright spot was Box’s ability to think about his future. He was able to weigh his options and recently announced through his Twitter account that he has made the decision to commit to Cornell University for lacrosse. 

“I chose Cornell because it was the best fit for me,” Box said.  

He highlighted Cornell’s academic and athletic success when talking about the school. Box went on to say the importance of culture. From the coaching staff to the style of play, Box believed it was the perfect fit for him. 

The junior still has two seasons of football and lacrosse before joining the Ivy League. His production on the gridiron puts him in line with other Marple Newtown great tailbacks who have donned the orange and black. 

Box is prepared to pick up where he left off last season, rushing for 941 yards and 11 touchdowns on 159 carries. Through the air, he caught 29 passes for 309 yards and three scores. 

His breakaway speed certainly played a factor in 2019 for an offense that generated 23.8 points per game for head coach Chris Gicking who enters his seventh season.

The excitement for the Tigers is there with experience on both sides of the ball. Team chemistry certainly plays a role as Box pointed out that most of these guys have been playing together since elementary school. 

“We feel this is our year, and we are going to go into every practice and every game like it’s our last.” 

Marple Newtown was playoff bound last year, but got bounced by visiting Unionville in the first round of the District 1, Class 5A playoffs.  With the majority of the team returning as experienced upperclassmen, there are some high expectations for the team. This starts with the Tigers’ senior signal-caller, Joe Paoletti.

If you have listened to or watched Marple Newtown football over the past five years, fans have become familiar with the last name Paoletti. As a junior, Joey led the team to an 8-4 record which included the first Turkey Bowl victory over host Penncrest. 

Paoletti went 128-231 for 1,370 yards and 16 touchdowns. On the ground, he managed 89 rushes for 163 yards and a three scores. 

Paving the way for Paoletti, Box, Eric McKee, and Brian Joslin will be a senior-heavy offensive line for the Tigers. Winning the battle in the trenches is a recipe for success. Anchoring Marple Newtown’s line on both sides of the ball are the likes of Johnnie Ebert, Joey Goodman, and returning captain Ryan Lain.

Lain is a force in the trenches and the pandemic allowed him additional time to improve his craft. 

“I actually had more time to focus on the areas of my game that needed improvement like footwork and core strength,” Lain added. “I have never felt better about myself going into a season before.” 

Lain recently committed to play collegiately next fall at Sacred Heart University, giving the Tigers a pair of Division I commits. Similar to Box, Lain believes that his selection was a good fit. From academics to the coaching staff, he said he felt at home. The future is bright for him, but first he will anchor the line for the Tigers. 

Another senior not to sleep on is the Tigers’ utility man in Brian Joslin who did a little bit of everything a season ago. Joslin was second on the team in rushing behind Box with 417 yards and five touchdowns as a compliment to Box. Joslin is the thunder, while Box is the lightning. On the other side of the ball, he was sixth on the squad with 27 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss.

The Tigers return several starters on the defensive side of the ball, including leading tackler CJ Lane. The now senior posted 70 tackles to go along with three tackles for loss from his linebacker position. Marple Newtown as a whole caused 11 fumbles, three due to Lane.

Meanwhile, Ebert caused havoc on the defensive line with 51 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and 13.5 tackles for loss. He is the top returning player in sacks and TFLs for the Tigers. On the backend, the secondary registered 13 interceptions, eight of which belong to Box from the safety position.

Sr., K/P Jimmy O’Brien is the face of the special teams and has been for the past two seasons.  The kicker connected on three of his five attempts last season with a long of 37 yards. He even threw a touchdown pass on an averted field goal attempt against Lower Merion. Punting wise, O’Brien managed to pin opponents inside the 20-yard line six times.

Be sure to listen to the Tigers Radio Network for coverage of the Marple Newtown Tigers this season.