Senior 3-sport standout DeLuca ready to lead Derry football team
Derry football coach Tim Sweeney played for legendary coach Joe Paterno at Penn State.
He knows what type of athlete can play at the NCAA Division I level.
That’s why he’s puzzled why more Division I schools haven’t shown interest in Trojans outside linebacker/fullback Dom DeLuca. He does have offers from Bucknell and Virginia Military Institute for wrestling, according to Derry wrestling coach Mike Weinell.
DeLuca is a three-sport athlete at Derry. He was a PIAA Class AA silver medalist in wrestling and a talented hitter on the volleyball team.
But Sweeney feels the 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior likes to play football the most.
“He can easily put on weight and play on the defensive line in college,” Sweeney said. “Being an all-state wrestler, I know he’s been in some battles, and he fears no one. I’m confident some of his opponents will fear him.”
That’s why Sweeney is eager to see how DeLuca matches up against Latrobe and its Division I-bound tackle Trent Holler in the season opener.
DeLuca is expected to be more involved on the offense this season. He was a quarterback candidate as a freshman, but Sweeney moved him further in the backfield to help the offense. Sweeney said he’s a hybrid fullback/H-back.
With injuries to returning running backs Colton Nemcheck and Justin Huss, DeLuca could be used different ways. He scored three touchdowns in 2017.
“Dom is a student of the game with a lot of athletic ability,” Sweeney said. “He prepares himself for every game.
“We’re hoping he adds to our offense. He might not be as fast as Colton or Justin, but he’s a load to bring down. He has great hands. He doesn’t have to learn too much about our offense. He’s ready to take his game to the next level.”
Derry likes to run the ball and throw on its terms.
And DeLuca said he’ll do whatever to help the team. Sweeney wants him to be a leader.
“I just have to keep everyone poised,” DeLuca said. “We’re going to be in some big situations, and there is going to be pressure and adversity. We just have to push through it and stay focused.”
Derry is already facing adversity with the injuries to Nemcheck and Huss, both expected to return sometime this season.
But DeLuca said he’s confident others will pick up the slack.
“It’s hard to replace them,” DeLuca said. “Colton was such a hard worker and solid hitter, and Justin has speed and makes plays. The younger guys are starting to get reps and starting to pick things up.
“Justin (Flack) is someone I expect to become a leader and a person who will step up. He’s someone people will follow.”
Sweeney said he wasn’t pleased with the attitude of some players this summer. So he expects DeLuca to provide leadership and show them what it takes to be successful.
“Dom needs to be the leader of the team, and he needs to set the example for the younger players,” Sweeney said. “He has to show them how we do business at Derry.”
DeLuca said he’s sure the team will come around.
“We have to do what the guys in the past have done,” DeLuca said. “They’ve put in the hard work, and they’ve got to trust the coaches.”