Westmoreland football Q&A with Hempfield’s Dillon Ferretti

Wednesday, September 11, 2019 | 6:13 PM

Dillon Ferretti likes to take pregame power naps. He sets the alarm on his phone so he doesn’t oversleep.

“Like a half-hour or an hour,” the Hempfield linebacker said. “It helps me to relax, and I just think about what I want to do in the game.”

Not a unique ritual but one that works for him. Opponents and recruiters, meantime, should never sleep on Ferretti.

The 5-foot-11, 225-pound senior, who also plays offensive right guard, has been delivering punishing hits and chasing down ball carriers with abandon for the improved Spartans (2-1, 1-1).

“I have been doing this for 30 years, and he is one of the best I’ve had,” Hempfield coach Rich Bowen said. “What stands out about Dillon is his closing speed. He’s 110 miles per hour at all times. He has that football quickness. He runs a 4.9 (-second) (40-yard dash), but it’s more like a 4.5 when he’s on the football field.”

Ferretti, who also is a pad-cracking presence on special teams with the kickoff team, leads the Spartans with 32 tackles — eight for losses — and 312 sacks.

The season he is having might best be captured in the jolting hit he put on Norwin quarterback Jack Salopek in Hempfield’s 34-17 win over the Knights. Salopek rolled left, and Ferretti made a beeline for him, knocking the strong-armed passer backwards into the sideline.

“You only have to tell him something once, and he goes out and does it,” Hempfield defensive coordinator Mark Crovak said. “He’s one of the best linebackers we’ve had here.”

Ferretti, who also wrestles and throws the shot put and discus for Hempfield, is the subject of this week’s Westmoreland high school football Q&A.

Hempfield has looked solid on both sides of the ball this season. What is different about this group?

We knew if we could put everything together we could win. We were in a lot of close games last year and learned what we needed to do.

You’re a third-year starter and second-year captain, but you’re not a screamer when it comes to leadership. You’re more low-key?

Yes. I just try to make sure we’re doing the right things and try to take the lead on defense, especially to help the younger guys.

What past Hempfield players did you look up to?

Jake Hoffner, Braden Brose, Brock (Barnhart) — guys like that. And coach Mack (Ray McCanna) have all had an influence on me.

Do you have a favorite of your three sports?

Not really. But one has made me better in another. Wrestling helps football and track makes you stronger.

Which sport do you want to play in college?

Football or wrestling.

Why hasn’t Hempfield been able to win consistently?

We need tough guys, and our senior group is that way. We changed the way the team looks. We have an edge. Last year, that wasn’t quite there. We are real physical and fight for every yard.

What did you see on the Salopek hit?

As as soon as he turned and rolled, I knew we had him contained so I just went after him. It was the biggest hit I have had.

Why were you guys able to beat Norwin so soundly?

Our secondary had some injuries with Demetrius Murphy and (Taylor) Dunn out. Randy Nelson moved to safety. Joey Benz and Nathan Roby did so well back there.

Who is the team funny guy?

Probably “Meech” (Murphy).

How tough is Nathan Roby and how good has he been?

He is one of the toughest guys around. He fights until the finish.

Favorite school subject?

Math or history.

Favorite school lunch?

Buffalo chicken wraps.

Which game have you had circled for a while?

PCC (Central Catholic) this week. That’s the team I always want to beat.

What did you make of the whole Antonio Brown to the Patriots saga?

I thought his whole situation was just childish. I just don’t like his arrogance.

What were your impressions of the Steelers in their opener at New England?

I thought they could have done much better. Their linebackers got picked off too much and didn’t perform well enough in my opinion.

What makes you so physical at linebacker?

My dad taught me if I am getting bullied to give it right back to them. As far as linebacker, it’s easier to hit someone than it is to get hit.

How do you see this season ending?

With us hopefully making it as far as we can. To get there and have a big impact on the playoffs.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .


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