Andre Patton thought he had a better year on offense than he did on defense.
So the St. Elizabeth senior was surprised to be named Delaware’s Defensive Player of the Year in voting by media and the Delaware Interscholastic Football Coaches Association board.
“I was contributing a lot on the offensive side of the ball, but on defense we had more weapons than we did on offense,” Patton said. “I thought I did a little more on offense, and that’s what I was being recruited for in college. So for me to get this award, it was definitely a shocker.”
Multiple Division I colleges recruited the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Patton as a wide receiver, and he has verbally committed to Rutgers. But there was a good reason his offensive statistics were flashier than his defensive stats.
On offense, St. E could get the ball to Patton in a variety of ways. But on defense, opponents often tried to keep him out of the game.
“It got to the point where people would see where he was lined up and direct everything away from him,” Vikings coach Joe Hemphill said. “… He was one of those kids who could cover up some of the weaknesses in your defense and make plays.”
Archmere coach Jerry Ambrogi tried to avoid Patton. But that forced the Auks out of some of their best plays, and they lost to St. Elizabeth, 24-0.
“We tried to game plan against him,” Ambrogi said. “St. Elizabeth would put him to our offensive strength, and then we were shifting away from that so we would be as far away from him as possible. … They shut us out, so my Plan B didn’t work very well.”
Patton kept the award in the family. His older brother, Eric, was the state’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2010 and 2011 as a St. E linebacker. Eric used to drive opponents toward Andre, but that element was missing this season.
“Last year, it was more difficult for teams [to avoid me] because we had my brother on one side and me on the other side,” Patton said. “This year, it seemed like most of the teams ran away from me. I had some things coming my way, but not as many as last year.”
That’s why Patton finished with only 30 tackles, 38 assists and three interceptions. But opposing coaches knew the impact he could have.
“You had to account for him and kind of contour your game plan away from him,” Ambrogi said. “He could cover so much ground so quickly, and he was a great tackler. He’s one of the best open-field tacklers in the state.
“If you threw it his way, it was a huge mistake,” Ambrogi added. “There was a good chance he was going to jump over your player, and then you had to worry about trying to tackle him if he made an interception.”
Patton was what Hemphill called a “rover” on defense, lining up wherever the Vikings thought they needed him on each play. That could be at strong safety, linebacker or even up on the line.
He was just as versatile on offense, catching 48 passes for 761 yards and eight touchdowns and rushing for 677 yards and 14 scores. He also excelled in rare opportunities as a kickoff and punt returner, even though most teams kicked away from him.
Now Eric Patton is preparing to enroll at the University of Delaware and be ready for spring practice, and Andre Patton will head to Rutgers. Next fall will be the first season in five years that Hemphill hasn’t lined up at least one Patton on the field, and he’s not looking forward to it.
“I don’t even want to think about it right now,” Hemphill said. “I’ll just wait until the time comes and deal with it. I know there’s going to be a lot of people happy to not see at least one of them on the field.”
Delaware All-State Football Team
Darius Wade, QB
Offensive Player of the Year, jr., Middletown, 116-177 passing, 2,275 yards, 27 TDs; 546 yards rushing, 7 TDs
Pierce Ripanti, FB
sr., Caravel, 1,499 yards, 20 TDs
Jamar Baynard, RB
sr., Middletown, 1,738 yards, 28 TDs
Marquel Knight, RB
sr., Indian River, 1,838 yards, 26 TDs
Chris Godwin, WR
jr., Middletown, 42 catches, 834 yards, 12 TDs; 427 yards rushing, 5 TDs
Andre Patton, WR
sr., St. Elizabeth, 48 catches, 761 yards, 8 TDs; 677 yards rushing, 14 TDs
Ameer Watson, TE
sr., Smyrna, 4 catches, 32 yards, 2 TDs
JD Filippone, C
Jacob Smulski, G
Jose Ortiz, G
Nick DiGati, OT
Darren Helwig, OT
Jacob Smulski, DE
Lineman of the Year, sr., Middletown, 28 tackles, 22 assists, 10 tackles for loss, 4 sacks
Andre Patton, DB
Defensive Player of the Year, sr., St. Elizabeth, 30 tackles, 38 assists, 3 interceptions
Mike Williams, DE
sr., St. Mark’s, 29 tackles, 39 assists, 11½ sacks
Jayvon Thomas, DT
sr., A.I. du Pont, 20 tackles, 52 assists, 3 sacks
Jacob Bricker, DT
jr., Middletown, 20 tackles, 21 assists, 5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks
Devan LaBau, DT
sr., St. Mark’s, 12 tackles, 31 assists, 3½ sacks
Nick DiGati, LB
sr., Middletown, 50 tackles, 44 assists, 11 tackles for loss
Troy Reeder, LB
Cory Mattox, LB
Chris Godwin, LB
jr., Middletown, 24 tackles, 11 assists, 7 tackles for loss, 6 sacks
Jarrett Ross, DB
sr., Charter of Wilmington, 75 tackles, 5 interceptions
Thomas Davis, DB
sr., Middletown, 26 tackles, 11 assists, 3 interceptions
Adam Szczerba, K
sr., St. Elizabeth, 34 PATs, 5 FGs, 26 touchbacks
Jim Andrews, P
sr., Salesianum – 41.1-yard average
Chris Godwin, RET
jr., Middletown – 10 returns, 501 yards, 4 TDs
QB – Ian Gory, sr., Dover; FB – Grant Roberts, sr., Concord; RB – Donovan Cain, sr., Dover; RB – Austin Tilghman, jr., St. Andrew’s; WR – Kendall Wicks, jr., Caesar Rodney; WR – Thomas Davis, sr., Middletown; TE – James Rendle, sr., St. Elizabeth; C – Corey Donovan, sr., Newark; G – Kees Elling, sr., Indian River; G – Wesley Jones, sr., A.I. du Pont; OT – Jim Januzzio, sr., Salesianum; OT – Andrew Marshall, jr., Milford
DE – Butch Booth, sr., Sussex Central; DE – Conor Furey, jr., Archmere; DT – Josh Herrmann, jr., Caesar Rodney; DT – James Rendle, sr., St. Elizabeth; DT – Dimone Hodge, sr., Lake Forest; LB – Brendan Fogarty, jr., St. Mark’s; LB – Travis Caraway, sr., Sussex Central; LB – Deon Wright, jr., Dover; LB – Silas Stewart, sr., Howard; DB – Jordon Robinson, sr., Dover; DB – Andrew McClelland, sr., Salesianum; DB – Marquel Knight, sr., Indian River
K – Billy Zwicharowski, sr., Polytech; P – Peter Grasso, sr., A.I. du Pont; RET – Andre Patton, sr., St. Elizabeth
QB – Kevin Trader, sr., Delmar; FB – Sha’Quandas Murray, sr., Sussex Central; RB – Jeff May, sr., Hodgson; RB – Troy Reeder, jr., Salesianum; WR – DeAndre Davis, sr., St. Mark’s; WR – Jordon Robinson, sr., Dover; TE – Cody Bauer, sr., Concord; C – Justin Amarte, sr., Sussex Central; G – Tom Ott, jr., Cape Henlopen; G – Mike McClosky, sr., St. Elizabeth; T – Conor Furey, jr., Archmere; T – Nathan Robinson, sr., Lake Forest
DE – Jimmy Woodward, sr., St. Georges; DE – Allen Justice, sr., Indian River; DE – Brian O’Neill, jr., Salesianum; DT – Tyler Odrick, jr., St. Georges; DT – Xavier Trotter, jr., Hodgson; DT – John Flamer, so., Lake Forest; LB – Tom Wilmoth, sr., Salesianum; LB – Keith Jones, sr., Sussex Central; LB – Jamar Baynard, sr., Middletown; LB – Robert Ortiz, sr., Lake Forest; DB – Mike Catalano, jr., St. Mark’s; DB – Adam Szczerba, sr., St. Elizabeth; DB – Jeff May, sr., Hodgson
K – Sam Carney, sr., Wilmington Friends; P – Adam Szczerba, sr., St. Elizabeth; RET – Jeff May, sr., Hodgson
Teams selected by the Delaware Interscholastic Football Coaches Association