Four Derry Area standout football players recently earned post-season recognition from the WPIAL.
Matt McDowell led the charge, as four from Derry Area were named to the WPIAL Class 3A Allegheny Seven All-Conference team.
Cain Latta made the team on separate occasions, while Brayden Mickinac and Dylan Rhodes were also recognized for their play by the WPIAL.
“I congratulate these athletes for performing at the top of their game all season,” Derry Area coach Vince Skillings said.
McDowell was named First Team All-Conference running back this season to lead the Trojans. He led the Trojans on the ground with 61 rushes for 413 yards, while also hauling in four receptions for 129 yards and a team-best five touchdowns.
“Matt McDowell did a phenomenal job on both sides of the football,” Skillings said. “A talented athlete, he made big plays when we needed them, either as a running back or a defensive back.
“Though he was banged up, Matt didn’t miss practices, which is a testament to his toughness.”
Latta was recognized on both sides of the ball, as he was named Second Team All-Conference guard on offense and All-Conference defensive end defensively.
“Cain Latta is a coach on the field,” Skillings said. “He’s not only in the top 5% of his class, but he has a very high football IQ. A quiet, but hard-nosed leader, Cain emptied the tank every practice and game.”
Rhodes was recognized as a Second Team All-Conference defensive line, while Mickinac was also honored on the Second Team as an All-Conference guard offensively.
“Dylan and Brayden were really coming on strong when we were shut down,” Skillings said. “They’re tough, strong players who won’t back down from a challenge. We’re anxious for next season.”
Derry Area finished the 2020 season under Skillings, a first-year coach, with a 2-2 conference record and a 2-3 overall mark. Skillings replaced Tim Sweeney, who went 49-18 in six seasons, while leading the Trojans to the WPIAL semifinals three times and the championship game in 2018.
This season, the Trojans lost their opener at home against North Catholic in lopsided fashion, but rebounded with a big 24-point win at Deer Lakes the following week. Derry Area lost the next two games, one in conference against Freeport Area and an exhibition versus Southmoreland before a big 13-point win at Valley to close out the Trojans’ season.
Derry Area’s last two regular-season conference games against East Allegheny and at Burrell were postponed because of coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns, while a final-week exhibition against the Bucs was also wiped out for the same reason.