Longtime Malvern coach puts his QB in 'best-ever' territory

Posted: September 07, 2007

When some coaches refer to a player as their all-time best at a particular skill, it's hard not to snicker.

All-time? C'mon, buddy. You've only been coaching, say, eight seasons.

When Gaspare "Gamp" Pellegrini makes such a statement, however, there's nothing but reverence. After all, this is his 41st consecutive season as the head coach of a high-school football team and his 30th at Malvern Prep.

His pronouncement: Ryan Nassib, who already has committed to Syracuse, is his all-time best passer.

"I've had quarterbacks who could motor better," Pellegrini said. "But throwingwise? Forget it. This kid's the best. Great arm. He'll throw a 30-yard out and the ball will never be more than 6 feet off the ground.

"The kids catch the ball in self-defense. I always tell them, 'Good thing you got your hands up in time, or you'd be going to the hospital.' "

In what should be a very competitive Inter-Ac League, Nassib's talents could put Malvern over the top. It doesn't hurt that top rusher Chris Layne is also back and that Joe Price appears poised to do a nice imitation of '06 receiving star Joe Hoban.

"Now we just have to block," Pellegrini said. "We're still untangling things on the offensive line. It's one thing not to block. Our guys still aren't sure who to block.

"As long as we get that settled ... I'm very excited. In some years, this team could have gone undefeated, or close to it. That'll be difficult to do with our tough schedule, but I like this club a lot."

While Nassib is the league's top gun, the best-wheels award goes to Chestnut Hill Academy's Rashad Campbell.

The 5-8, 175-pound Campbell, who's being pursued by Ivy and Patriot schools, last year ran for 1,748 yards and 22 touchdowns. Three other Blue Devils - QB Mike Mattei, wideout Mike Lonergan, grunt Tim Gramlich - are also being eyed by Division I-AAs.

Penn Charter, the defending champ, lost many important cogs, but if games are won along the line of scrimmage ...

"That's where we have our experience," coach Brian McCloskey said. "We also have some speed."

The Quakers possess versatility at the QB spot. John Ryan (brother of Boston College star Matt) is the thrower, while Ed Bambino gets the call when using the option makes sense. Also, Bambino is a dangerous receiver.

Episcopal Academy is senior-heavy and coach Bill Gallagher likes the fact that his co-captains, backs Bobby FitzPatrick and Andrew Kissner, can receive leadership support from teammates who are captains in other sports (Jim Finnegan, lacrosse; Matt Byrne, track.)

"In this league, you're always pretty safe to go with Malvern or Penn Charter," Gallagher said. "But this might be the most balanced I've seen it. It really does look wide open."

Nevertheless, since somebody has to, Germantown Academy and Haverford School might have to settle for lower-level profiles.

GA's franchise is fullback-linebacker Kevin Doty, who's drawing keen interest from Temple (for tight end) and Navy (for down lineman) in addition to Ivy/Patriot schools. Yes, GA basketball whiz Caroline Doty, who's bound for Connecticut, is Kevin's twin sister. Their brother, Mike, a receiver/d-back, is a GA football star-to-be.

At Haverford School, junior Danny Judge completes the lineup of the league's quality signal-callers.

RETURNING ALL-INTER-AC PLAYERS

(Selected by Coaches)

Offense

L: Ed Logan, GA; Tim Gramlich, CHA.

Rec.: Ed Bambino, PC.

B: Ryan Nassib, MP (QB); Chris Layne, MP (RB); Rashad Campbell, CHA (RB).

Defense

L: Ryan McGarvey, PC.

LB: Kevin Doty, GA.

B: Bobby FitzPatrick, EA; Mike Lonergan, CHA.

THUMBNAILS

CHESTNUT HILL ACADEMY

Coach: Rick Knox, 3rd year (also Episcopal, 2001-04); Education: Chestnut Hill, Penn. Career: 28-20, 14-5 at CHA (second year in I-A).

Last Year: 2-3 league, 4th; 7-3 overall.

Great eight: Rashad Campbell, RB-DB, 5-8, 175; Mike Mattei, QB, 6-2, 185; Mike Lonergan, Rec.-DB, 6-2, 195; Tim Gramlich, G-DT, 6-2, 275; Sean Goldstein, LB, 6-foot, 215; Juan Gaskins, T-DE, 5-11, 245; Mike Wismer, Rec.-LB, 5-10, 195; Marcus Clemons, Rec.-DB, 5-11, 175.

Happy about: experience, dedication.

Concerned about: offensive line.

Knox's comment: "With our experience and talent level, we're looking for big things."

EPISCOPAL ACADEMY

Coach: Bill Gallagher, 3rd year (also Chestnut Hill, 1973-80; Penn Charter, 1981-91 and 1993-94; Springfield Montco, 2004); Education: Judge, Notre Dame. Career: 140-64-4; 11-9 at Episcopal.

Last Year: 1-4, fifth; 5-5.

Great eight: Bobby FitzPatrick, RB-DB, 6-foot, 185; Andrew Kissner, RB-LB, 5-10, 195; Jim Finnegan, RB-DB, 5-11, 180; Elliot Faust, T-DT, 6-6, 250; Sean Cohen, Rec.-DE, 6-2, 205; Matt Byrne, Rec.-DB, 5-11, 175; Dan Hilferty, QB-DB, 6-1, 175; Greg Nealis, T-DT, 6-3, 235.

Happy about: senior leadership, early progress.

Concerned about: kicking game.

Gallagher's comment: "I really liked the way we played in our three scrimmages."

GERMANTOWN ACADEMY

Coach: Luke Harris, 2nd year; Education: Germantown Academy, Dickinson. Career: 7-3.

Last Year: 3-2, 3rd; 7-3.

Great eight: Kevin Doty, RB-LB, 6-3, 230; Reed Marko, RB-DB, 5-10, 190; Ed Logan, T-NG, 6-foot, 260; Joe Conaway, T-DT, 6-3, 240; Pete Haines, QB-DB, 6-3, 190; Mike Doty, Rec.-DB, 6-3, 175; Dan Lipschutz, K-P, 5-9, 165; Kevin Blalock, G-DE, 5-11, 195.

Happy about: senior leadership, blocking provided by offensive line/K. Doty.

Concerned about: developing backups, talented but unproven skill players.

Harris' comment: "We're trying to become a great fundamental team. That's where it starts."

HAVERFORD SCHOOL

Coach: Michael Murphy, 3rd year; Education: Quakertown, East Stroudsburg. Career: 4-17.

Last Year: 0-5, 6th; 1-10.

Great eight: Andrew Hubley, T-LB, 6-4, 240; Blaise Butler, T-DE, 6-7, 240; Craig Owen, Rec.-LB, 6-foot, 205; Joe Dougherty, G-NG, 6-foot, 250; Danny Judge, QB, 6-3, 205; Terance Fitzsimmons, RB-LB, 6-foot, 175; Chris Ambrogi, Rec.-DB, 5-11, 170; Shomari Watts, C-NG, 6-foot, 215.

Happy about: having system in place for 3rd season, veterans.

Concerned about: young skill players.

Murphy's comment: "While realizing we're still building the program, it's time to stop thinking about 'just competing' and get some wins on the board."

MALVERN PREP

Coach: Gaspare "Gamp" Pellegrini, 30th year (also St. Thomas More, 1967-69; St. Joseph's Prep, 1970-77); Education: St. Thomas More, Delaware. Career: 259-143-9; 200-85-8 at Malvern.

Last Year: 4-1, 8-2.

Great eight: Ryan Nassib, QB-DB, 6-2, 220; Chris Layne, RB, 5-10, 170; Jim Connelly, RB, 5-10, 180; Charles "C.J." Mooney, Rec.-DE, 6-2, 225; Phil Congialdi, LB, 5-10, 190; Joe Coffey, LB, 6-1, 225; Sean Ferguson, DT, 6-5, 340; Joe Price, Rec., 6-3, 170.

Happy about: skill players.

Concerned about: offensive line, demanding schedule.

Pellegrini's comment: "As long as we keep working hard, we're going to have some fun."

PENN CHARTER

Coach: Brian McCloskey, 13th year (also Penn Charter, 1992); Education: Penn Charter, Ursinus. Career: 75-40.

Last Year: 5-0, 8-2.

Great eight: Ed Bambino, QB-Rec.-DB, 5-10, 165; Blaise Fullen, Rec.-LB, 6-3, 195; Anthony DiSalvo, Rec.-LB, 5-8, 175; Kashif Smith, RB-DB, 5-8, 170; Kelvin Johnson, Rec.-DB, 5-11, 190; Ryan McGarvey, G-DE, 6-1, 225; Mike McInerney, G-DT, 6-3, 265; John Ryan, QB, 6-3, 180.

Happy about: offensive line, speed.

Concerned about: youthful backfield.

McCloskey's comment: "I like our kids. I think we'll compete."

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