Sunday, September 28, 2014
Dieruff - The Team to Watch
I won't beat around the bush. The chief problem at both Allen and Dieruff has been poverty. This has led to a transient population in which families move frequently. That often prevents the most athletically gifted students in the Lehigh Valley from excelling. A few things have stemmed that tide for Dieruff. I can't put my finger on any one thing, but have seen a lot of interest in youth sports in East Allentown over the past ten years. Is it the East Side Youth Center? The Wall to Wall basketball program? The frequent tournaments in which fathers and mothers watched their sons and daughters grow up?
Something good is happening. Instead of seeing a deserted J. Birney Crum stadium on Friday night, there was a bit of a crowd. Lots of proud families. One young man, about 7, told me several times that his brother was playing. I sat near one woman who came because she's an alumnus and is excited at how the kids are doing, even though she knows none of them.
Freshmen football players walked up and down the concourse, proudly wearing their Jerseys. I begged them to go easy on my grandson on Monday, when the Freshman team plays Beca, and they laughed.
You won't find a better football stadium in the Lehigh Valley. You also won't find better food, including funnel cakes.
On the field, I could see #50, Badid Haddad, a linemen who made a few key stops throughout the game. He'll be back next year. He gives it everything and happens to be pleasant young man off the field.
Senior Shakur Lester (#6) took a kickoff all the way in for a score, and had several great long runs. So did Juniors Devante Robinson (#20) and Jayden Reyes (#1), who will be back next year.
For whatever reason, Dieruff is developing a core of athletes who grew up and have played in the Lehigh Valley. Tough and gritty, they know and have played the same kids who now play for Parkland, Beca, Central, Freedom and Liberty.
They never quit.
Another amazing phenomenon was the band. A reader observes, "They can't have more than twenty people who play instruments and I noticed two of the big bass drummers marching at halftime were actually football players who took their helmets off and never made it to the locker room! I was sincerely shocked at how loud they were, though; I never would have guessed they could generate that much noise."
I laughed when the Husky mascot pretended to pee on the Golden Hawk.
I did see a fight as I left, but it was broken up by the kids themselves. Another good sign. What I see at that football game is a much more hopeful prognosis for Allentown than the NIZ.
The big game Friday night was Whitehall's upset of Parkland. That's Dieruff in two years.
MaxPreps now rates Becahi #6 among AAA teams, and #15 statewide. Easton is rated #4 among AAAA teams, and #9 statewide.