More: Delone "D" erases doubt en route to district title

HERSHEY -- Senior quarterback-safety Brett Smith remembers it like it was yesterday.

It was 2009 and Delone Catholic High was facing Lancaster Catholic for the District 3 Class AA football title. Smith was a freshman at the time and was with his family sitting in the stands watching.

Delone went on to lose that game 42-6.

On Friday at Hersheypark Stadium, Smith led the Squires to a 28-13 victory over Steelton-Highspire to claim the District 3 Class A title and to advance to the PIAA quarterfinal round.

Delone’s Matt Guiffreda carries the ball while Steelton’s Dywan Blanding leaps in for a tackle during Friday’s District 3 Class A
Delone's Matt Guiffreda carries the ball while Steelton's Dywan Blanding leaps in for a tackle during Friday's District 3 Class A football championship game at Hershey Stadium (EVENING SUN - SHANE DUNLAP )

Smith did it all Friday for the Squires, who won their first district title since 2007, when they defeated Trinity 25-0 in Class AA, and their first Class A district title since 1994 with a win against now-defunct Scotland, 20-14.

The senior had his hand in all four Squire touchdowns. He rushed for two, threw one and returned an interception 78 yards for the fourth.

"All I was thinking all day was no mistakes," Smith said. "Play the way you are capable and help your team win."

That is exactly what he did.

His most crucial of the four touchdowns was his interception return. It was a play for which he was not even supposed to be on the field. Steel-High was looking at fourth-and-14 on the Delone 39-yard line.

The Rollers had the momentum on their side after having just scored a 2-yard touchdown run from Tyquan Walker and then forcing the Squires to punt. They were only down eight points and were set to pin the Squires back near their own end zone.

Instead, the Rollers decided to fake a punt and Steel-High punter Mitchell Filmore lofted the pass right into the hands of Smith, who avoided and outran defenders on his way to the end zone.

"I was supposed to come out for the punt," Smith said. "The guy who usually comes in for me was already in, so I just stayed out there. We were playing our normal defense and were not going to return it at all. We were just playing the fake. The ball was up there, so I was going to take it."

"I saw this guy come in motion and knew they were up to something," head coach Steve Wiles said. "At first, I was hoping he would just knock it down, but he caught it and was off."

That touchdown inevitably sealed the deal for the Squires, who had a 28-13 lead with just under seven minutes remaining.

After forcing the Rollers to turn the ball over on downs on the next possession, Delone proceeded to run out the clock.

Delone's defense was nearly impenetrable from the start. Leading the charge was Austin Noel, who tallied two sacks and a tackle for loss in the first quarter alone.

"I felt like Superman," Noel said. "We were making plays and getting fired up. Sometimes, when we would blitz our linebackers, their tackles and guards weren't picking it up right away. I was thinking during the game when I blitz, shoot up off the ball and stay low. I know, when we did our blitz from the outside, we had both the defensive end and me rushing, and we got to him pretty good."

Offensively, the Squires were led by running back Matt Giuffreda. The junior had the game of his career Friday, rushing for a career-high 154 yards.

"I can't even explain how good it feels," Giuffreda said. "It is amazing.

Delone Catholic football players celebrate their District 3 Class A title against Steel-High.
Delone Catholic football players celebrate their District 3 Class A title against Steel-High. (For the Daily Record/Sunday News -- Brian Shea)
I have been playing with these guys since seventh and eighth grade. Just to contribute is a great feeling. I always admired these guys."

Wiles knew ahead of time he was going to go to the Giuffreda well often.

"My son texted him yesterday and I told him to tell Matt to eat a lot of turkey because he was going to get a lot of carries today," Wiles said. "They were running a 4-3, and that is a defense where we like to get the fullback involved. I didn't tell him during the week, but as a staff we sort of knew. He has really taken off this year."

The Squires got on the scoreboard on their first drive of the game. It was a nine-play drive that went 70 yards and was finished with Smith's 2-yard run. Giuffreda highlighted the drive by rushing six times for 57 yards.

Delone added to its lead on the next drive when Smith found a wide-open Patrick Staub cutting to the middle of the end zone for a 25-yard catch.

"We sent a post behind the safety and the safety didn't drop with him, so he was wide open and I hit him. It was a nice flood pattern," Smith said.

After the first of Smith's three interceptions, Delone put together a seven-play drive that concluded with Smith's second rushing touchdown, a 4-yard jaunt on a bootleg to the right to give the Squires three touchdowns on three drives.

The Rollers came out of the half inspired, while the Delone seemed content with their lead. Quickly. the Rollers jumped on the scoreboard with Walker's touchdown run.

On its next possession right before the fake punt, Steel-High was looking at second-and-5 and had rattled off runs of 9, 8, 8 and 7 yards on the drive. Wide receiver Dywan Blanding took the handoff on the reverse, only to be met by Delone's Tyler Loucks, who tackled him for a 9-yard loss that, after an incompletion, forced the faked punt.

"That stop was huge," Smith said. "He is a sophomore. He made a huge play staying at home and getting into the backfield."

"That was one of the biggest plays of the game," Noel added.

The Squires await the winner of the game between Bellwood-Antis and Bishop McCort, who play at 7 p.m. today at Mansion Park in Altoona.

mrubin@eveningsun.com; 717-637-3736, extension 143. Twitter: @michaelrubin6.

 

Steel-High  0    0  13  0 -- 13
Delone  6  15    0  7 -- 28

First Quarter
   DC --Brett Smith 2 run (kick failed), 7:10.
Second Quarter
   DC --Patrick Staub 25 pass from Smith (Giuffreda run), 10:46.
   DC --Smith 4 run (Jay Strickland kick), 5:40.
Third Quarter
   SH --Anthony Ferguson 12 pass from James Warren (Jorge Caraballo kick), 5:11.
   SH --Tyquan Walker 2 run (kick failed), 2:30.
Fourth Quarter
   DC --Smith 78 interception return (Strickland kick), 6:58.
 
-- SH -- DC
First downs -- 7 -- 15
Rushes-yards -- 35-80 -- 46-190
Passing -- 4-16-3 -- 3-6-1
Passing yards -- 63 -- 57
Total yards -- 143 -- 247
Punts -- 3-30.0 -- 3-33.6
Fumbles-lost -- 1-0 -- 0-0
Penalties-yards -- 1-15 -- 5-55

 
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
   Rushing -- Steelton-Highspire, Walker 19- 64, Dywan Blanding 7-9, Warren 8-7, Alex Furlan 1-0; Delone Catholic, Giuffreda 25-154, Lance Reneker 11-28, B. Smith 7-18, Zach Smith 3-(-10).
   Passing -- Steelton-Highspire, Warren 4-16-3-63; Delone Catholic, B. Smith 3-6-1-57.
   Receiving -- Steelton-Highspire, Jaki Haywood 2-51, Ferguson 1-12, Blanding 1-0; Delone Catholic, Giuffreda 1-26, Staub 1-25, Austin Noel 1-6.