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Middletown Advances to Sixth State Championship in Seven Years

11/27/2016, 11:30am EST
By DESD, Pat Garyantes

"That was our motivation all offseason, get that extra rep in the weight room, run that extra sprint, earn that extra yard.” - Anthony DelPercio

MIDDLETOWN- It was a rematch of one of last year’s most exciting finishes in Delaware high school football, as Salesianum (7-3) traveled to Middletown (10-0) for the opportunity to play in the Division I DIAA State Championship game.

In last year’s matchup, Salesianum held Middletown at the goal line as time expired to win the game 27-21 at Baynard Stadium. 

“All offseason long, our guys knew that we lost by one yard,” senior Anthony DelPercio shared, “and that was our motivation all offseason, get that extra rep in the weight room, run that extra sprint, earn that extra yard.”

This year things went differently as Middletown earned their 6th chance at the state title in the past seven years with a 25-7 victory over the Sals.

This game was very close early as both defenses were stout.  Middletown quarterback, Drew Fry, opened the scoring with an 11-yard touchdown late in the opening quarter to bring the score to 7-0 after the first.

The Sals would then score half way through the second quarter on a 10-yard touchdown run by their workhorse back, Josh Patrick to tie the game at 7.  This score was set up by a few interesting plays.  First, Middletown faced a 4th & 1 from their own 30-yard line.  Instead of running up the middle or punting the ball away to manage field position, the Cavaliers threw the ball as Fry missed the mark on an open Delpercio, turning the ball over on downs. Three plays later, Salesianum faced a 4th & 4 from the Middletown 24-yard line.  Junior quarterback, Zach Gwynn scampered for the first down on a gutsy run to the left sideline, which set up the Sals for the Patrick TD.

The Cavaliers responded with a back-breaking touchdown pass from Fry to Nicholas Johnston with only 4.9 seconds left in the half to bring the score to 13-7, Middletown, as the teams’ head into the locker room.

After the break, Middletown marched right down the field, on their opening possession, for a 10-yard touchdown pass from Fry to DelPercio to bring the lead to 19-7.

The next turning point happened late in the third quarter.  Middletown was pinned at their own three-yard line after an interception.  Drew Fry was then picked off by Michael Drake at the Cavalier 15, setting up Salesianum to crawl back in the game.  However, it was not meant to be for the Sals, after struggling to move the ball, Gwynn was once again intercepted on fourth down. 

Middletown would tack on one more score, a Kedrick Whitehead touchdown run, in the fourth quarter to bring us to a 25-7 final.

Coach Mark DelPercio spoke after the game about his teams’ resilience, “we had to battle through some turnovers, had to battle through some bad play calls on my part, we’ve had to battle through a lot of things and we’ve got through those because of our mental toughness.” Coach DelPercio continued, “that mental toughness is something that you earn, you get that back in January during your workouts.  It’s not something you get by just showing up in August.  I couldn’t be more proud of our guys tonight.”

The unsung hero of this game was Middletown’s ferocious defense.  Middletown had only given up twenty points to an opponent once all season, to Salesianum, and was unquestionably the teams back bone.  Coach DelPercio had nothing but glowing compliments about his defensive unit. “These guys just love the game of football, and coach Blum has done a great job of putting these in the right spot,” DelPercio continued, “but in the end, we knew it was going to come down to pursuit and tackling the ball carrier, I mean {Josh Patrick} is a hell of a football player, and we did that tonight.”

And with the victory, Middletown earns a trip to the DIAA Division I State Championship game next Saturday, December 3rd, at Delaware Stadium, for a 1 pm kickoff. They will play the winner of tonight’s Smyrna (10-0) vs William Penn (9-1) matchup at Smyrna High School.

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