By NATE HECKENBERGER

nateheckenberger@gmail.com

@nheckenberger

WEST CHESTER -- One goes by "Darb,' the other aptly named "Beef,' and they both play defensive line.

That's about where the similarities end.

Senior Brad Patton (Darb) and junior Bryan White (Beef) have become an unexpected, yet welcomed, odd couple in the middle of the West Chester Henderson defense this fall.

White, who's listed at 6-foot-1, 260-pounds, brings the size and muscle to the fight, while Patton (5-foot-8, 155) relies on his speed and quickness. Together they've become quite a nuisance for opponents.

"I think it's a pain for other teams to scout us,' White said. "You have a small, scrappy guy in Brad, who's strong for his size, and me at the three-technique with my strength, and I think I'm pretty quick for my size. We complement each other pretty well and we're hard to prepare for.'

Warriors' coach Steve Mitten knew what he had in White entering the season. White started on offense as a freshman and both ways as a sophomore, so Mitten knew he had the keystone to his defense.

Patton, on the other hand, was a junior varsity linebacker as a junior and didn't start at nose tackle until week two against West Chester Rustin.


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"Bryan was our only returning starter, so we were trying to find ourselves early in the season,' Mitten said. "We pride ourselves on playing tough defense and physical defense. Those guys provided a spark to play Warrior ' D.''

Using a five-man front against the Golden Knights, Mitten inserted Patton at nose, head-up on the center. Patton slanted and shot gaps and while Rustin searched the roster to figure out who this kid was, Mitten realized he had something.

Patton, who reached the regional tournament as a 138-pound wrestler last winter, credits his background on the mat for his ability to maneuver and leverage himself against bigger foes.

"Without wrestling I probably wouldn't be able to do what I'm doing,' Patton said. "I give wrestling a lot of the credit for what I'm able to do.'

What makes it difficult for opponents is the contrasting styles. Patton goes to the weakside and creates chaos in the A-gap, forcing guards and the center to be pinpoint on their steps. White is predominantly the strongside tackle, locking down the B-gap and demanding double teams.

White has drawn interest from Division 1 and Division 2 schools, with the University of Akron showing the most interest. White's father, Ted, played football at Virginia Tech and Villanova, and older brother T.J. plays for Villanova currently.

"I feel as though I need to get to the same level as my dad and brother,' White said.

Henderson (7-4) has that feel of a "defensive' team. While there have been several of talented offensive players over the years, the Warriors are like the Pittsburgh Steelers or Baltimore Ravens in that the defensive players have established Henderson's tradition.

"I wanted to get that Henderson ' defenseman' status,' White said. "My older brother was, and a guy I looked up to, Max Perrise, had that status. I wanted to be known as the defensive guy.'

The defensive tradition has resulted in the Warriors traditionally being a factor in the Ches-Mont National Division. Despite finishing third in the division this year, Henderson finished the regular season with some momentum.

The Warriors went 4-1 the second half of the season, holding teams to 14 points or less each game. With three Class AAAA Ches-Mont teams losing home playoff games last week, it appears it was a down year in the league this fall, but Henderson is one win away from the 3A district title game again and the team goes as the lines take it.

"They complement each other well, but don't underestimate Brad's leverage and strength,' Mitten said. "I've seen him control and blow up kids 100 pounds heavier than him. His quickness and leverage go a long way. And Bryan, with his quickness and power, has really been an anchor for us on D.'

Mitten finds humor in the fact that his nose tackle a season ago, Cam Williams, was over twice the weight of Patton. Now, Mitten relies on a kid who packs as much desire and effort into half the size.

"I like going against the big, fat guys,' Patton said. "The bigger the better. It motivates me more and makes me want to go the extra mile.'

A week ago against Bishop Shanahan, it was a fumble recovery and 60-yard return for a touchdown by Patton that was the difference in a game in which each offense scored two TDs.

Mitten recalled Brad's father, Frank, scooping and scoring on a fumble in the early ' 80s for Henderson, and that anecdote was only reinforced to Brad after he was tackled inside the 10 on a fumble return against Coatesville a few weeks prior. Following Patton's timely score last week, Mitten's badgering was not forgotten by Patton.

"Friday after (Patton's) scoop and score, on our sideline I went over to tell him to breathe because we needed him back on the field,' Mitten said. "He looked up and asked me if that was better than his dad's. I said, by far.'

Maybe it's White's turn to one-up his dad. Not that he and Patton are keeping score or anything.