Chris Gicking was a record-setting quarterback at Marple Newtown, throwing for 5,897 yards and 53 touchdowns from 1993 to 1995.
After going to Villanova on a scholarship, the Broomall native transferred to Shippensburg and passed for 6,325 yards and 65 touchdowns in three seasons. That was followed by a brief stint in the Arena Football League II.
Following in the footsteps of his father, Harry, Gicking spent 13 years as an assistant at Conestoga. Things came full circle when he took over at Marple Newtown last year following Ray Gionta's move to Sun Valley.
"It was something I had thought about doing for a long time," said Gicking, also the school's athletic director and dean of students. "It probably goes back to the time when I was playing here."
In his second season, Gicking has guided the Tigers to a 9-2 record and a berth in the District 1 Class AAA semifinals. Last week's 20-7 triumph at Pottsgrove marked the first playoff win in program history.
"You come into every season hoping to be successful," Marple Newtown senior two-way end Noah Turner said. "But I think we had high expectations for this year because of the guys we had coming back."
The sixth-seeded Tigers look to continue their banner campaign when they visit second-seeded Upper Moreland (9-2) at 7 p.m. Friday.
With the multiple hats he wears at the school, Gicking made it a point to thank his wife, Donna, for her support. The couple has three children: Olivia, 6; Christopher, 4; and Nolan, 1.
Gicking and his players had heavy hearts going into the playoff vs. Pottsgrove. Sophomore running back Jack Fallows' father, Joe, 49, died earlier Friday at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania of complications from a stroke.
"Mr. Fallows was one of our biggest supporters," senior captain Abel Hoff said. "He was part of the booster club, would come to a lot of our practices, and was there for every game."
An all-purpose threat in the squad's spread offense, the 5-foot-8, 165-pound Hoff has made 64 catches for 1,010 yards and 10 TDs. He has rushed 95 times for 474 yards and six touchdowns.
"He has a terrific burst," Gicking said of the third-year starter, who has a scholarship offer from Millersville and has drawn interest from Delaware, Lehigh, and Stony Brook, among others.
Hoff is supported on offense by QB Anthony Paoletti (1,664 yards passing, 14 TDs), running backs Fallows and Marlon Weathers, and receivers Marcus Weathers, Chris Rufo, and Tyler Kostack.
Harry Gicking, who came over with his son from Conestoga, is Marple Newtown's defensive coordinator. "He's very particular," Chris Gicking said with a laugh. "Everything has to be perfect."
In addition to Turner, a 6-2, 225-pounder who has notched eight sacks, the Tigers' 4-4 defense is headed by fellow end Matt Trainor, tackle Justin McKeown, linebacker Gino DiCamillo (76 tackles), and cornerbacks Hoff and Kostack.
Of Chris Gicking, Turner said, "He's a great guy, always energetic, and a person you can turn to if you have a problem."