Interest level high at Derry following 2 subpar seasons

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Friday, August 19, 2022 | 12:01 PM


With a new coach on board, Derry has been repositioned in Class 2A, drastically altering recent schedules. No disrespect to the current opponents, but dropping down just might suit the Trojans better after several fruitless seasons in Class 3A.

Among last year’s opponents, only Burrell, Class 4A Latrobe and Class 3A Southmoreland remain on Derry’s schedule.

Seven of the Trojans’ 2021 opponents qualified for the WPIAL playoffs, including North Catholic, which reached the Class 3A championship game. Three others advanced to the quarterfinals.

This year’s slate, the first under coach Mike Arone, features an Allegheny Conference matchup with defending PIAA Class 2A runner up Serra Catholic. Steel Valley, another new opponent, reached the WPIAL semifinals a year ago.

Three others were knocked out in the first round.

Derry’s push to return to the playoffs began with 57 players in camp, nearly double that of last year’s 31-man, opening-night roster. The Trojans hope the increased interest will lead to another spot in the postseason, where they made four consecutive appearances from 2016-19, including a trip to the WPIAL Class 3A championship game in 2018.

“Needless to say, we’re very pleased with the turnout,” said Arone, who takes over a team that has won just two games during the past two seasons.

Arone, a former Homer-Center assistant, succeeds ex-Derry star Vince Skillings, who was fired with two games remaining during an 0-9 season in 2021.

“Our goal now … as a coaching staff, we feel this group wants to be coached,” Arone said. “They want to be here doing everything we’re asking. We want to build a culture.”

Derry opens at home Aug. 26 with its usual backyard clash against Latrobe, hoping to erase the memory of a 61-0 loss to the Wildcats last year at Latrobe.

Senior Jordan Flack, who did not play football last season, opened camp in a quarterback battle with sophomore Blake Revoir, who ran the offense as a freshman, when Derry averaged just 7.7 points.

Ahmad Ward, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound junior, was likely to earn the starting nod at tailback.

“We expect big things from him,” Arone said. “We’ve got some size up front, so that’s a plus for our running game.”

Junior Nathan Barkley likely will play at fullback for the Trojans, while senior Roman Darazio and sophomore Damauri Robinson were set to man the wide receiver spots.

A battle at tight end featured senior Anthony Lang and juniors Mason Beeman (6-4, 230) and Colin Bush (6-3, 215).

Senior Dom Patrick, a 5-11, 220-pound guard/linebacker, should make an impact on both sides of the line, according to Arone, who has referred to Patrick so far as the team’s “heart-and-soul.”

“He shows up 100% of the time,” Arone said.

Derry boasts several sizeable offensive linemen in 6-6, 285-pound senior Zach Stash — who, like Flack, wasn’t on the team last season — and 6-6, 298-pound junior Maddox Bush.

At least four sophomores — Colin Barkley, Ethan Bendel, Owen Monnich and Drake Platt — also were under consideration.

Defensively, Patrick and Nathan Barkley were ticketed for the inside linebacker spots, and Ward and senior Nate Gray were manning the outside positions.

Colin Barkley was expected to open the season at nose guard.

In the secondary, Robinson and Darazio, and perhaps Lang, were likely to be the cornerbacks with Flack and sophomores Noah Berkheimer or Brett Klim at the safety spots.

“I can’t tell you what this year’s team is going bring,” Arone said. “We’re just trying to be there in the fourth quarter.”

Derry

Coach: Mike Arone

2021 record: 0-9, 0-5 in Class 3A Allegheny Conference

All-time record: 267-356-14

SCHEDULE

Date, Opponent, Time

8.26 Latrobe, 7:30

9.2 at Greensburg Salem, 7

9.9 Southmoreland, 7

9.16 at Yough*, 7

9.23 Apollo-Ridge*, 7

9.30 at Serra Catholic*, 7

10.7 Steel Valley*, 7

10.14 Imani Christian*, 7

10.21 Burrell*, 7

10.28 at Ligonier Valley*, 7

*Conference game

STATISTICAL LEADERS

Passing: Zack Revoir

6-16, 71 yards, 0 TDs

Rushing: Eric Catone*

33-199, 1 TD

Receiving: Catone*

3-47 yards, 0 TDs

*Graduated

FAST FACTS

• First-year Derry coach Mike Arone was co-offensive coordinator on the coaching staff at District 6 Homer-Center in 2017, the year the Wildcats lost to WPIAL champion Jeannette in the PIAA Class A championship game.

• Derry’s roster has increased by 26 players over last year’s total.

Deer Lakes, Latrobe and Valley were the only teams on Derry’s schedule last season not to qualify for the WPIAL playoffs.

• Derry was outscored last season by an average of nearly 47 points per game.

ROSTER

No., Name, Pos., Ht./Wt., Cl.

1, Kaden Creech, WR/DB, 5-11/160, Jr.

2, Alex Anderson, WR/RB/LB, Sr.

8, Griffin Gallagher, QB/WR/DB, Jr.

11, Damauri Robinson, WR/DB, 6-0/155, So.

14, Colin Bush, TE/FB/LB, 6-3/215, Jr.

17, Jacob Jewell, RB/DB, 5-7/170, So.

18, Jordan Kniseley, WR/DB, 6-0/155, Sr.

20, Roman Darazio, WR/RB/DB, 5-8/165, Sr.

21, Max Doperak, WR/DB, 5-4/130, Fr.

22, Ahmad Ward, RB/LB, 5-10/180, Jr.

23, Ayden Cottom, RB/LB, So.

24, Blake Revoir, QB/DB, 6-0/165, So.

25, Jeremiah Gess, RB/DB, Fr.

27, Mason Beeman, WR/TE/DL/LB, 6-4/230, Jr.

28, Andrew Snyder, WR/DB, 5-10/155, Fr.

29, Nate Gray, WR/TE/LB, 5-10/210, Sr.

30, Anthony Lang, WR/DB, 5-8/186, Sr.

31, Jonathan Sumaker, WR/RB/DB, 5-9/135, Jr.

33, Brett Klim, RB/WR/DB, 5-6/124, So.

42, Jordan Flack, RB/QB/DB, 5-8/155, Sr.

45, Vincent Dudzinsky, WR/DB, 6-3/160, So.

55, Dom Patrick, OL/LB, 5-11/220, Sr.

60, Colin Barkley, OL/DL, So.

63, Zach Stash, OL/DL, 6-6/285, Sr.

65, Owen Monnich, OL/DL, 6-0/220, So.

66, Levi Haase, OL/DL, Fr.

67, Jason King, OL/DL, 5-11/221, Jr.

68, Dawson Chamberlain, OL/DL, 5-7/155, Fr.

69, Drake Platt, OL/DL, 5-11/235, So.

70, Leo Filler, OL/DL, 6-2/270, Sr.

71, Cuyler White, OL/DL, 5-10/195, Fr.

72, Ethan Bendel, OL/DL, 5-7/210, So.

73, Shane Iscrupe, OL/DL, 6-1/225, Fr.

77, Maddox Bush, OL/DL, 6-6/298, Jr.

79, Aiden Abbott, OL/DL, 5-10/185, Fr.

82, Justin Papuga, RB/TE/DL, Fr.

Michael Aaron, OL/DL, So.

Bradly Ansel, OL/DL, Fr.

Nathan Barkley, RB/LB, Jr.

Noah Berkheimer, WR/DB, 6-1/200, So.

Gael Gonzalez Kelly, WR/DB, So.

Matthew Gunter, WR/DB, 5-6/130, Fr.

Jacob Harris, So.

Noah Hignett, Fr.

Trent Hughes, WR/DB, So.

Duke Klapchar, WR/QB/DB, So.

Dylan Klim, RB/WR/DB, Sr.

Lorenzo Lazaro, WR/DB, So.

Caden Marsh, WR/DB, Fr.

Carson Pynos, OL/DL, Sr.

Xavier O’Reily, Fr.

Franklin Palmer, OL/DL, Fr.

Kyler Richards, OL/DL, Sr.

Jason Ruckel, WR/DB, So.

Hunter Smith, Fr.

Dominic Taresco, WR/DB, Jr.

Sebastian Wallace, Fr.

Note: Due to publishing scheduling conflicts, the preview for Allegheny Conference team Serra Catholic will appear on Trib HSSN next week.

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