Derry defeats Burrell, earns top seed in Class 3A Big East Conference
By: Kevin Lohman
Friday, October 26, 2018 | 10:21 PM
On a muddy field amid a heavy rain, Derry dug in and dominated the line of scrimmage on its way to a 35-14 victory against Burrell on Friday, clinching a share of the WPIAL Class 3A Big East Conference championship.
The Trojans tied North Catholic and Elizabeth, but Derry will be the top seed in the conference because it owns the tiebreaker. The conference title marks coach Tim Sweeney’s third during his tenure at Derry, which began in 2014.
“It means a lot,” Sweeney said.
“To do that, and to have the support of our community — the first responders coming out and supporting us like they do, and to have the people with the motorcycles come out and rev them up for our team because they know the boys like that. I just wish everyone had the same vantage point as me. It’s a lot of fun and we feel the support.”
Derry (9-1, 7-1) didn’t complete a pass against Burrell (2-7, 2-5), taking control via the run early. The Trojans gained 162 rushing yards in the first half. Running back Justin Flack opened the scoring with two first-quarter rushing touchdowns and finished with 104 yards and three TDs on eight carries.
Derry running backs Dom DeLuca and Onreey Stewart each ran for a touchdown.
On the flip side, the Buccaneers couldn’t get anything going. The slippery field made the passing game treacherous as Burrell threw two interceptions on its first five attempts. The Trojans’ Bastien Anderson and Matt McDowell picked off the passes.
From there, things didn’t get any easier for Burrell as it mustered 51 yards of offense in the first half.
“The field was really sloppy, but both teams had to play on it. We thought we hemmed their running game down a little bit,” Sweeney said.
“From the defensive side, I was happy with the way we played. Offensively, the conditions made it harder for us to do some of the things we like to do, but we managed and got the win.”
Burrell got the chains moving late in the second half, when running back Lukas Kastelic scored on a pair of runs, the first from 25 yards and the second from 15 yards.
Kastelic finished with 18 carries for 90 yards, putting him at 1,027 for the season.
“We came out and played hard,” Bucs coach Shawn Liotta said. “I’m proud of our kids, we battled.
“Derry is a really good football team. They’re conference champs for a reason. They run the ball, and they played good defense but I was proud of our kids’ effort. We didn’t give them anything. They had to earn it all tonight. I think we have a bright future with these guys.”
Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.