Linemen Malis, Adams ready to lead the way for Derry

Friday, August 9, 2019 | 7:14 PM

If the Derry football team wants to challenge for a fourth consecutive WPIAL Class 3A Interstate Conference title, it will be the guys in the trenches who will pave the way.

Seniors Max Malis and Gavin Adams have been anchoring the Trojans offensive and defensive lines for three seasons and are ready for the challenges ahead.

“Those guys are worth of the attention they are gathering,” Derry coach Tim Sweeney said. “What’s unique is the offensive line has been playing together for a long time. Some have been playing together for three years.

“It’s their last go around and it’s the strength of our team. We as a coaching staff believe games are won up front.”

Both have recently picked up NCAA Division I offers, Malis from the Air Force Academy and Adams from St. Francis (Pa.).

Both players were all-conference first-team linemen in 2018, when they helped the Trojans reach the WPIAL 3A title game at Heinz Field. The Trojans lost to eventual state champion Aliquippa.

Malis (6-foot-2, 270 pounds) plays right tackle and defensive end, and Adams (6-4, 280) is the left tackle and also a defensive lineman. Both also expect more scholarship offers to come.

The center spot is a competitive battle between Cain Latta and Justin Fallat, while the guards are Lucas Ciocco and Seth Loughner.

Derry finished with an 11-2 record last season, including a come-from-behind semifinal win against North Catholic that fans will remember for years.

Even though the Trojans graduated a lot of players, Malis and Adams are confident the team will perform up to high expectations.

“Our goals are still pretty high even though we lost a lot from last year’s team,” Malis said. “We’re going to rebound and find more skilled players. We have a lot skill and talent that are ready to step up and play with us up front.

“We have a good group of seniors up front. If we’re not having a good day, our teams won’t be very good. But we strive to be the best every day.”

Derry will get a test in Week Zero against neighboring rival Latrobe. Then it will host Freeport in Week 1, a team it defeated in overtime in 2018.

“I have a lot of respect for the teams we’ll be playing.” Sweeney said. “The ball security is important for us. We play some great-coached defenses. We’ll try our best to move the football.”

Adams said the continuity among the linemen is good.

“We’ve all stuck together, so we know what to expect,” Adams said. “We have to find a better approach to games.

“We have to give more effort into it because we have fewer guys. Everyone has to give a full amount of effort.”

And while Malis was pleased to get an offer from the Air Force Academy, he was even happier for his teammate.

“It was a great day for me, but when Gavin got the offer it was even a better day for him,” he said. “Gavin has been grinding all summer and is finally on the board, which is good for him.”

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .


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