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A look at high school football throughout the state

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

W2L4: Derby

Coach: George French (3rd year, 9-11)
League: NVL
Last season: 4-6
Top offensive players: Dillon McMahon, 5-8, 150, Sr., WR; Tyrae Small, 5-10, 205, Jr., RB
Top defensive players: Matt Nicolari, 5-10, 195, Sr., LB; Duane Jones, 5-10, 215, Sr., DL
Key losses: Ray Kreiger, QB; Brian Dobek, WR/DB; Tim Adanti, TE; Luis Casco, OL/LB.
Inside the huddle: Six returning letter winners, including three starters on offensive/defensive lines. Experience on the line should be invaluable, especially on defense. McMahon caught 50 passes for 1,089 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior.
Fast fact: Kreiger was a four-year starter at quarterback. His brother, Michael, a sophomore, is expected to start at the position this season.

In 2010, Derby played as part of a co-op with O'Brien Tech. Last season, most of the team's more experienced and talented linemen attended O'Brien Tech and played for the Condors as that school fielded a varsity football team for the first time.

French, though, is confident that Derby's line should be improved with the return of several starters who gained valuable experience playing on the varsity level last season.

"The offensive line, they have a year in, and we have most of those kids coming back," French said. "This is probably the first year (since French has been coach) that we have some experience coming back on the line."

French added: "I expect much improvement from a 4-6 season last year."

Last season, despite Derby scoring an average of 33 points per game, the defense surrendered 32.

"Defensively, we were hurt big time last year," French said. "In the off-season, these kids have really worked their butts off to get bigger, stronger, faster. We're really taking a hard look at our defense, really work hard on our fundamentals and going back to basics. We have not set our sights low when it comes to defense this year."

With the graduation of Ray Kreiger, there will likely be a quarterback competition as summer camp progresses.

"It's the first day of camp so we're taking a hard look at it," French said. "Michael's had a great off-season. He's been throwing the ball very well."

McMahon can also play the position, as well as sophomore Ben Slowik and junior Sal Frosceno.

Another area Derby hopes to improve upon this season is its running game. Small will likely be the team's featured running back.

"Tyrae had an excellent off-season," French said. "He's put on about 20 pounds of muscle, he grew another inch or two. He's really learning how to run. A lot of people don't understand how young he is. He's a junior, but he's only played football since his freshman year. He's still learning the game. Each year of him carrying the football he's gotten better and better. He looks very good so far."

Said Small: "I'm expecting a great season. I think I'm going to be able to run the ball well with my line blocking. We have to be more balanced so teams don't think we're just a passing team."

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