Resch provides physical, intelligent presence in middle of Hampton defense

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Saturday, October 9, 2021 | 11:01 AM


Hampton’s Jacque DeMatteo has sought two traits in his middle linebacker during 22 seasons as a WPIAL football coach.

“You have to be physical and intelligent,” DeMatteo said, “and that’s both adjectives and qualities that describe Jayden right now.”

Senior middle linebacker Jayden Resch is the anchor of an improving Hampton defense that has helped spur the Talbots (6-0, 3-0 as of Oct. 7) to one of the best starts in program history.

The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Resch is among the Talbots’ leading tacklers and is responsible for pre-snap defense alignment and adjustments.

“Coach relies on me. He trusts me,” Resch said. “I align the front and give the formation for pass coverage. If he thinks something else should be called, he screams in from the sideline. We are usually (on the same page).”

Said DeMatteo, “He knows everything that we want. He does a good job.”

After allowing a combined 58 points in victories over Shaler and Armstrong, the Talbots limited Highlands to a season-low point total in a 27-7 victory on Sept. 24 and then routed visiting Greensburg Salem, 45-6, on Oct. 1 in a battle for first place in the Greater Allegheny Conference. Both opponents had been averaging more than 30 points per game.

In the past three decades, only two Hampton teams have better starts than this year’s squad, which was scheduled to visit Indiana on Oct. 8. Hampton’s 2001 team opened 10-0 and the 2014 team began 8-0.

“He’s a very physical kid,” Highlands coach Dom Girardi said of Resch. “He has nice size. He can move well, and he’s just a very solid football player and tackler.”

Resch also got into the action on offense against Greensburg Salem, scoring on a 1-yard run for his first touchdown of the season.

Resch is back in the middle of the Talbots defense after playing outside linebacker last season as Hampton broke a four-year playoff drought. He spoke with DeMatteo during the offseason and they decided to return him from edge rusher to middle linebacker, where he had played as a freshman and sophomore.

“(Coach DeMatteo) made a comment, ‘Which one do you like more?’ I told him I really liked (playing middle),” Resch said. “I like hitting people. Whenever they run up the middle, I like making those big stops. That’s fun.”

Resch is undeniably tough. When he broke his wrist midway through his sophomore season, he returned to play wearing a hard cast.

He is also a wrestler and went 20-14 as a junior, placing second in Section 1-AAA at 172 pounds and qualifying for the WPIAL Class AAA Southwest Regionals.

But football is his priority.

“Right now, in my opinion, he is playing at a first-team all-conference level,” DeMatteo said.

“He is a force inside. I like his range and how he plays from tackle to tackle.”

DeMatteo said Resch has matured by “leaps and bounds” this season, augmenting a strong summer in the weight room with an increased leadership role.

“His maturity has grown tremendously,” DeMatteo said. “He was a younger kid, and now all of sudden he’s grown into a senior, and I think he has taken it upon himself. ‘Hey, this is my last shot at being a high school football player, and I want to do the best that I can for myself and my team.’

“And it’s evident. It shows. It’s evident that he cares, and it’s evident that it’s not just about him.”

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