Northeast High School senior McCarthy has played positions all over the field, using his speed to switch over to defense.
DeShawn McCarthy loves playing defense.
He earned that right by playing offense.
McCarthy is a senior on the Northeast High School football team, and last year when the Vikings won the Public League Class 6A championship, he was blocking for an explosive running game.
Blocking certainly isn’t his favorite part about playing football, but since it led to a championship, the tight end did it while wearing a huge smile.
“I like playing defense a lot more and when I play offense, I like going out to for passes more than blocking,” McCarthy said. “Last year we ran the ball a lot, but I didn’t care. I like blocking when we’re winning.
“Last year, we didn’t throw too much, but when we did I liked going out for passes. I want to be a receiver, but I’ll do whatever the coaches ask me to do.”
This year, they’re asking him to do a lot.
McCarthy is still starting at tight end, but now they need him at defensive end, too.
He’s not the biggest guy on the team, weighing a little less than 200 pounds, but his speed is what gives opposing linemen fits.
They can’t block what they can’t catch.
“The biggest thing is using my speed on defense,” McCarthy said. “I need to get there quick. I have to get off and get in there quick and hit them.
“I think they’re playing me on defense because they need me. But they made me earn it. I had to work really hard, especially over the summer, because I knew I wanted to play both positions. If you put in the work, you’ll get to play.”
McCarthy hopes the hard work he and his teammates put in brings them another championship.
During his sophomore year, when he was on the junior varsity squad, Northeast made the Public League championship before falling to Simon Gratz. Last year, the Vikings were able to get over the hump when they defeated Central in the title game.
For McCarthy, he’s happy he had both experiences going into his final high school season.
“I remember them both, winning the ‘chip was great last year, but the loss is always in the back of my mind,” said McCarthy, who lives within walking distance to his school. “I want to win another one and I never want to lose another one. It was such a different kind of ending.”
McCarthy is having more fun this year because he’s able to chip in as a receiver.
Northeast will still pound the ball, but over the summer Carlos Divila became the quarterback. Last year, he was a stud defensive back who played receiver.
He’s still a top defensive back in the Public League, but when he’s on offense, he’s throwing it instead of catching it.
“We have great chemistry,” McCarthy said of him and Divila. “He knows what it’s like to be a receiver but I don’t get mad at him if I don’t get the ball. We have signs when we want something. I’ll make a signal or he’ll make one. When we do that, we know the other one sees something.
“He’s good. He’s very good. And because he’s such a good quarterback, we’re able to do a lot of things. We can throw anytime. It’s nice to have a quarterback like that.”
While Divila is the quarterback, McCarthy knows he has to be the leader on both sides of the ball.
He’s not very demonstrative, but instead he provides leadership by example.
“I’m pretty quiet,” McCarthy said. “I’m more of a role player who goes out and does my role. When I do that, other people see it and then they do their job. I try to be a leader, but I do it with actions, not words.”
McCarthy is very optimistic the football team can bring home a title.
He also has two other chances to bring home a championship.
When football is over, he’ll play basketball. And when that’s over, he’ll run sprints on the track team.
“I’m a football player first, then the other sports,” said McCarthy, who said he hopes to play college football and study business. “I like basketball, too, but I’m a football player who plays basketball.
“I didn’t run track before last year. I decided to try it to get faster, and (football coach Phil Gormley) coaches me, so he works me pretty hard. I’m just doing it to get better, to get faster.”
“I think I’m a lot faster now, but on the track team, people say I’m slow,” McCarthy said. “I’m fast for football, but not track. I’m getting faster.”
Now he just hopes his senior year goes slowly and extends into December.
“I think we have another championship in us if we do the right things,” McCarthy said. “I’ll play offense, defense, block, whatever it takes. I think everyone will. When you win a championship, all you want to do is to win it again. And we have everything it takes. We just have to do it.” ••