Kedrick Whitehead adds running punch for Middletown

Kedrick Whitehead adds running punch for Middletown

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Kedrick Whitehead adds running punch for Middletown

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With talented sophomore quarterback Drew Fry stepping in, Middletown expected its passing game to be the focal point of the offense this season.

But to really be effective, the Cavaliers were going to need a running game to add balance. Kedrick Whitehead has stepped up and delivered.

The 6-foot-2, 181-pound junior has zoomed to 1,263 yards and 15 touchdowns, making Middletown (11-0) almost impossible to stop going into Saturday’s DIAA Division I title game against defending champion Smyrna (11-0) at 1 p.m. at Delaware Stadium.

“Our running game is coming into play more, a more balanced attack,” Whitehead said. “You can load the box, but we’re going to spread you out with the pass. If you don’t load the box, I’m going to pound you with the run.”

The Cavaliers are averaging 42.4 points per game, running a scheme similar to the Smyrna attack that has rang up 54.2 points per game. Eagles coach Mike Judy has watched his team frustrate defenses, and he knows his defense may feel the same way against Middletown.

“There are ways to line up and stop the pass,” Judy said. “People try it with us all the time. Every couple of weeks, you’re going to get a team that’s going to say, ‘You guys are not going to pass for 300 yards.’ Then the running game goes for 400.

“So the issue, to me, with defending a team like Middletown is do they run the ball? They do. Are they talented at running back? Yes, they are. That’s what makes it difficult, because you can’t take away the pass and stop the run.”

Fry has more than lived up to his billing, throwing for 2,542 yards and 35 touchdowns. The Cavaliers average 22.5 pass attempts per game, so opponents must respect that first. That leaves running room for Whitehead, junior Jeff Lockwood (323 yards, 4 TDs) and senior Ronald Hall (209 yards, 3 TDs).

“Because of the success of the passing game, it has opened up the running game,” Middletown coach Mark DelPercio said. “People say, ‘We’ve got to stop the receivers, we’ve got to stop Fry.’ But then all of a sudden, you’ve got Kedrick Whitehead in the backfield. … It works hand in hand.”

DelPercio’s son, Anthony, leads the Cavaliers in receiving with 44 catches for 901 yards and 15 scores. But he enjoys watching the offensive line, led by senior captain Caleb Weatherford, open holes for Whitehead just as much.

“I think it’s gotten better because teams are watching film and saying we need to cover that spread offense,” Anthony DelPercio said. “They’re taking guys out of the box, and that just opens things up for him. And we have a great O-line that’s paving the way.”

Offense is less than half of Whitehead’s contribution. The junior is also near the top of the Cavaliers’ defensive charts with 58 tackles, three batted passes and an interception as a linebacker.

“He’s that hybrid position,” Mark DelPercio said. “He can do a little bit of everything for us. He can cover, you can blitz him, he can stop the run, he’s a pass guy. … He’s somebody that we really use as a wild card.”

And he never gets tired.

“Not only has he gotten better throughout the season, he gets better throughout the game,” Mark DelPercio said. “He improves. Some guys will wear down. Kedrick, against Sallies the other night, in a 48-minute game he may have been on the field for 47½ minutes.

“He was on the special teams, on offense, on defense, and he’s not wearing down. But he’s put himself in that position based on what he’s done in the months leading up to it.”

To Whitehead, it’s just what he’s supposed to do. It’s what he will be counted on to do in the championship game.

“I go 100 percent every play, leave it all on the line,” he said. “I don’t take any plays off, whether I have the ball or don’t have the ball.”

Contact Brad Myers at bmyers@delawareonline.com. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ

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Middletown's Kedrick Whitehead (3) stiff-arms Salesianum's John Andreoli during the Cavaliers' 25-7 victory last Friday in the DIAA Division I semifinals.

Middletown’s Kedrick Whitehead (3) stiff-arms Salesianum’s John Andreoli during the Cavaliers’ 25-7 victory last Friday in the DIAA Division I semifinals.

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