TyGee Leach's versatility will play a significant role in Malvern Prep's bid to repeat as the outright Inter-Ac League football champion.
As the 5-foot-11, 190-pound senior showed in Saturday afternoon's matchup against La Salle, he is a major contributor as a swift receiver and defensive back.
>>PHOTO GALLERY: Malvern Prep 35, La Salle 23
Leach produced a first-quarter touchdown catch and third-quarter interception while helping lead the host Friars to a 35-23 victory over the inexperienced and turnover-plagued Explorers at Quigley Field.
Leach and Malvern (2-0) gained payback for the 45-21 thrashing the Explorers (0-3) dealt them last year at Plymouth Whitemarsh. This time, La Salle was hurt by five second-half turnovers.
Leach, a first-team all-Inter-Ac selection on defense last season, has committed to play at Lehigh. He is projected to play safety for the Mountain Hawks.
"He does so many things for us," Friars coach Dave Gueriera said. "But the thing that goes unnoticed about him is his football smarts. That sets him apart from other players."
Leach took a left-side screen pass from Drew Gunther and dashed 56 yards to give Malvern a 13-7 advantage in the first quarter.
"He's so dangerous, because he's very quick and he's a great route-runner," Gunther said.
With the Friars ahead by 28-17 in the third quarter, La Salle was threatening to pull closer. But on fourth-and-5 from the Malvern 31, Leach, in one-on-one coverage against Luke Hardy, intercepted a pass at the 5.
Gunther connected on 14 of 24 passes for 250 yards and four scores. His other TD passes went to Ryan Iacone (52 yards), Keith Maguire (10), and Lonnie White (10).
As was the case in last week's 49-17 romp over Roman Catholic, Malvern played without tailback Quincy Watson. As a fifth-year player, the Delaware recruit is ineligible to compete against PIAA foes. He will return next week at McDonogh (Md.).
Nick Gueriera, a full-time inside linebacker and the coach's nephew, again shined in Watson's absence. He carried 16 times for 104 yards.
Sean Daly started quarterback for La Salle, taking over for the injured Jack Machita. On the game's first play from scrimmage, Daly and 6-6 wideout Khalil Diarrah hooked up for an 80-yard tally.
La Salle 7 10 0 6 – 23
Malvern Prep 13 8 7 7 – 35
L: Kahlil Diarrah 80 pass from Sean Daly (Jake Gandolfo kick)
MP: Keith Maguire 1 run (Sebastian Costantini kick)
MP: TyGee Leach 56 pass from Drew Gunther (run failed)
L: Manny Quiles 7 run (Gandolfo kick)
MP: Ryan Iacone 52 pass Gunther (Maguire pass from Gunther)
L: FG Gandolfo 42
MP: Maguire 10 pass from Gunther (Costantini kick)
MP: Lonnie White 10 pass from Gunther (Costantini kick)