Derry defense shines in shutout of South Park
Friday, September 22, 2017 | 10:57 PM
Sure, Derry's offense outscored South Park's in its win Friday. But it was the Trojans' defense that put up more points than both offenses combined.
Dom DeLuca, Hunter Hebenthal and Colton Nemcheck each scored off South Park fumbles, and the Derry defense also recorded a safety in the Trojans' 43-0 win in an Interstate Conference game played at Baldwin High School.
Derry (4-1, 3-1) limited South Park to 81 yards of offense and had six takeaways — four fumble recoveries and two interceptions. That allowed the Trojans to play ball control on offense, running for 192 yards and passing just six times for 34 yards.
“We practice getting to the football. We do that on a daily basis, and we were fortunate enough to get the ball on the turf, and that's what happened,” Derry coach Tim Sweeney said. “I think that's a common theme in high school football. The team that turns the ball over more is going to be the team that gets licked.”
It wasn't all the Trojans' defense, as South Park (2-2, 2-1) made a number of unforced errors. In addition to the fumbles, high snaps were the cause of two of Derry's defensive touchdowns, the safety (on a punt attempt) and a combined loss of more than 50 yards for the Eagles.
“(Derry is) a good team, I'm not taking anything away from them, but we beat ourselves,” South Park coach Marty Rieck said.
“We didn't give ourselves a chance with the number of mistakes we made. You can only turn the ball over so many times, and I put our defense in a bad position some with where they were starting. You look at the score, and you'd think our defense got mauled, but that's not the case.”
The Trojans pulled ahead 14-0 in a span of 19 seconds in the first quarter. Onreey Stewart scored untouched on a 1-yard run, and on South Park's next play from scrimmage, quarterback Damon Smith fumbled and DeLuca scooped it up to score on a 21-yard return.
The safety made the score 16-0 at halftime, but South Park threatened by driving as far as the Derry 33 on their second drive of the third quarter. The Eagles' best chance to score ended when Stewart grabbed an interception and returned it 62 yards to the Eagles' 18, which set up Nemcheck for a 1-yard touchdown plunge.
Derry pulled away for its third straight win with a 1-yard scoring run by Justin Huss and the two late defensive touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
“I don't think we got South Park's best game tonight. … But a win at the high school level is a win, whether it's a nice win or a close one,” Sweeney said.
Nemcheck had 74 yards on 10 carries, and Stewart ran for 62 yards on 16 carries to lead Derry's offense.
DeLuca starred by doing a little of everything for the Trojans. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound junior outside linebacker had two sacks, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and a touchdown, and he even chipped in on offense with a 5-yard reception.
“Dom started coming into his own as a freshman, and he's establishing himself as a dominant player on the edge,” Sweeney said. “He's one of the best athletes in the state of Pennsylvania. You look at what he does in wrestling, finishing third in the state at (182), and rolls right into volleyball — he's a heck of a volleyball player.”
Smith finished with 46 yards rushing and 51 yards passing for South Park, and Isaiah Mack added 37 yards rushing for the Eagles, who are playing all of their home games this season at neutral sites while their stadium is being renovated.
Matt Grubba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com
Tags: South Park
More High School Football• PIAA football championship factoids: WPIAL teams look to make history
• PIAA finalists stand atop Trib 10 football power rankings
• Few tickets. No locker rooms. Covid-19 alters football team plans for PIAA championships
• The Birdie thinks Jeannette will do the steamrolling in PIAA finals
• High school football schedule, broadcasts for PIAA championships