Marchetti answers Navy's call; Senior end lacks none of pro namesake's spirit


He is listed as a "distant" relative of the former Baltimore Colts defensive great of the same name, but isn't sure how distant.

Gino Marchetti (christened Michael Jay Marchetti) is playing football on a left knee that has undergone three operations and may prevent him from engaging next spring in rugby, a sport in which he was an All-American for the West End Rugby Club.

But the Navy defensive end carries on in the family tradition (his father, also named Gino, was a running back at the academy), bent on proving he is more proficient than many recruiters believed.

"I always had a dream to play big-time college football," said Marchetti, of Springfield, Va. "James Madison, for instance, was asking me to walk on. I thought I was better than that. I knew my limitations in high school, but I believed I could do this.

"I saw what the academy did for my dad and I liked the competition and the schedules. I have never regretted coming here."

Of Marchetti's 22 tackles so far, four have been for losses, tying him for the team lead. He has also made two sacks, broken up a pass and caused a fumble.

He is one reason the Midshipmen are performing better on defense after an uninspiring start against Georgia Tech.

Like most of the Midshipmen, Marchetti -- 6 feet 2 and 240 pounds -- is often outweighed up front, but compensates with spunk and quickness. He is one of the team's leaders, a player trying to keep his teammates inspired while they suffer through some tough going.

"West Virginia might be 1-3, too, but they're not going to lay down for us," he said. "We've had a lot of senior meetings about the way things have happened the last couple of weeks, analyzing why we're still losing.

"It's my last season of playing football. The clock is ticking, and I want to make the most of the time left."

Marchetti said he is looking forward to his first trip to Morgantown, where the crowd can get a little wacky. "I hear the entire town shuts down on game day," he said.

"It's another team with big guys, but I'm looking forward to it. The bigger the better. You don't have to be 6-8 and 325; it's a matter of what you do on the field."

Marchetti had one of the better games of his junior season in the Mountaineers' thrilling, 45-24 win in Annapolis last year, notching four tackles and a sack.

It was undoubtedly Navy's most entertaining game of a dreary season in which coach Charlie Weatherbie used plays that weren't even in the playbook.

"Our staff coached to win from start to finish," said Marchetti. "I don't think anybody can hold anything against them for that game. I wouldn't be surprised to see the opening kickoff onside. We might be doing the same things against them."

Marchetti said he was not overly shocked by the 33-0 pounding Maryland inflicted on the Mountaineers two weeks ago, which shows they "are beatable. That was a pretty good licking, but I knew Maryland was on the verge of doing better things."

Because of his history of knee problems, Marchetti's future does not appear to be in combat. His father was a restricted-line officer in the supply corps and the son may end up with similar duty.

"I may go into defense contracting, mergers, things like that. More of the business aspect," he said.

Marchetti's other namesake went on to a Hall of Fame career as a member of one of pro football's legendary teams. Young Gino is not destined for that.

"We tried to make a connection [with ex-Colt Marchetti], but couldn't," he said. "The Marchettis were in West Virginia and parts of Los Angeles, but we couldn't trace all the roots, so I don't know how closely I'm related to him."

At least close enough to be called Gino.

NOTES: On paper, West Virginia's defense appears porous, with a 30-point-a-game allowance, but a lot of the problems have stemmed from offensive miscues. Weatherbie used backup quarterback Brian Madden in the second half at Rice, but Brian Broadwater remains the starter. Madden went in with the score 17-17, but Broadwater, who had been nicked, re-entered for the two-minute drill with the team behind. "You don't want to change when the team is behind," said Weatherbie. Navy ranks fourth nationally in rushing offense with 274.8 yards a game. Army, at 339.3, is No. 1. It was a weird week for Navy foes. Kent won over Bowling Green and Air Force lost to Wyoming. Entering last night's Georgia Tech-Maryland game, their collective record was 19-23, with Boston College (3-0) the only remaining unbeaten team.

Next for Navy

Opponent: West Virginia

Site: Mountaineer Field, Morgantown, W.Va.

When: Tomorrow, noon

TV/Radio: Ch. 2/WJFK (1300 AM), WNAV (1430 AM)

Line: West Virginia by 10

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