"He has a tremendous first touch. He's always one or two thinking steps ahead of the opposition. And he's probably the best restart direct-kick person we've ever had at Radnor."
Checcio certainly has compiled the statistical credentials to support these claims. His goal in Tuesday's 3-0 win over Upper Darby increased his school- record career total to 49. And he has played a major role in helping his club team, FC Delco, advance to the national championship game for its age group two of the last three years.
Despite the advanced level of play that he has grown accustomed to with the high-profile players on FC Delco, Checcio still has a special affinity for high school soccer.
"The intensity and the passion is definitely higher at the high school level," Checcio said. "When you're playing club soccer, the talent is good all around. In high school, whatever a team lacks in talent it makes up for in emotion, and I like that.
"It's definitely a great experience to play high school soccer. I want to make states (the PIAA state tournament) with this team."
As a midfielder for his club team, Checcio sets up his teammates for most of the goal-scoring glory. At Radnor, he was asked early last season to be more selfish and take over the bulk of the scoring responsibility. Checcio has no problem with either role.
That ability to adjust may be his biggest asset. Said Holt: "Ian changes his game. He's the one with all the options and he makes changes to make the other players around him better. A lot of others might get frustrated by who they have around them and give up."
Checcio's contributions have not gone unnoticed. Nearly every major college soccer power has shown interest. And despite also starting for Radnor's varsity basketball team (point guard) and baseball team (shortstop) since his freshman year, soccer will be his main athletic focus after high school.
Penn State, Notre Dame, Duke, North Carolina and a few Ivy League schools are among the list of schools Checcio is considering.
Locally, Checcio already has secured a prominent position in the school's history. Doug Deitch, who finished with 34 goals before graduating in 1980 and going on to a spectacular career at Lafayette, held the career scoring record until Checcio broke it last season.
"Deitch has been the one player who's defined Radnor soccer for years," said Holt.
Now there are two.
ALSO IN THE SPOTLIGHT
FOOTBALL. Quarterback Mike Samuel led Penn Charter to a 9-3 win in its season opener at Kiski Prep by completing 8 of 13 passes and running for the Quakers' only touchdown. . . . Glen Mills quarterback Damon Barrow tossed four touchdown passes and finished with 10 completions in 16 attempts for 217 yards in the Battling Bulls' 40-6 romp over H. D. Woodson (D. C.). . . . Jeff Yeakel amassed 227 yards on 27 carries, including a 41-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, to snap a 13-13 tie, giving North Penn a 20-13 triumph over Bensalem. . . . Kenny Mills keyed a punishing ground attack with 168 yards on 17 carries as Pottsgrove shut out Pennridge, 34-0.
BOYS' SOCCER. Anthony Cancelliere helped Father Judge improve to 6-0 with three goals in the Crusaders' 4-1 victory over Monsignor Bonner. . . . Brian Krug's hat trick was more than enough for Downingtown against Malvern Prep as the Whippets scored a 6-1 victory.
GIRLS' SOCCER. Joanna Dignazio's two goals and one assist powered Strath Haven past Archbishop Prendergast, 4-2, and improved the Panthers' record to 5-0.
FIELD HOCKEY. Delco Christian goalie Kristin Proto stopped 14 shots to help the Knights preserve a 0-0 tie with Radnor. . . . Sarah Rosenwinkel contributed two goals and two assists to lead Springfield (M) past Hatboro- Horsham, 5-0.
BOYS' CROSS-COUNTRY. Hatboro-Horsham's Russ Coleman was the Division II winner at the Briarwood Classic. Coleman completed the 3.1-mile Belmont Plateau course in 16 minutes, 40 seconds. Shawn McElhaugh of Council Rock won the Division I race.
GIRLS' CROSS-COUNTRY. Karen Thrapp of Quakertown edged Abington's Kate Goldman by 1 second to capture the girls' race at the Upper Dublin Coed meet.