For a lineman, Anthony DeLuca does a lot of running.
And it’s not just on the football field.
DeLuca is a senior defensive tackle on the Father Judge High School football team, and this spring, he has to hustle to make plays.
He also has to hustle to get to his practices and games.
Typically, DeLuca can focus on football during the season, but this year, the Crusaders are playing spring football because they sat out in the fall due to coronavirus. Now, he has the daunting task of finishing up football practice or games, rushing to the locker room, change his gear and meet up with his lacrosse teammates to play his regularly scheduled spring sport.
Linemen don’t usually like to run, but DeLuca loves to hustle from sport to sport.
“It’s not bad at all, I love lacrosse, and I really wanted to play a senior football season, and I really like being active, so it doesn’t bother me at all,” said DeLuca, who plays defense in lacrosse as well. “I can’t really pick which one I like better, I’m just glad we’re playing.
“It was tough when we didn’t play in the fall, but I trusted our coach when he told us if we could play in the spring, we would. And now it’s great. We’re still playing, so I’m really happy.”
It was a different season for the Crusaders. They didn’t battle teams in the Catholic League. Instead, they played in a league consisting of other teams that were unable to play in the fall due to the pandemic.
It’s working out quite well for the very young Crusaders.
Judge coach Frank McArdle had a lot of freshmen and sophomores in his lineup, and they went head to head with tough teams, finishing the season with a 4-2 record.
DeLuca knows this season won’t produce a Catholic League championship, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a very good season.
“I don’t think it matters who we play, we’re playing football and we’re the same team, we’re all together,” DeLuca said. “It’s great that we’re having a season. I really wanted to play a senior year, the seniors wanted to play again together, and the younger guys are getting better.”
DeLuca knows first hand how much it means to get experience.
Last year, DeLuca saw time, but he wasn’t a star. This year, he has become one of the best linemen on the team, causing havoc at defensive tackle even though he’s not one of the bigger guys on the field.
That’s a product of hard work and technique.
“I am one of the smaller guys, so I have to rely on speed and get low,” said DeLuca, who stands about 5 feet 8 and weighs around 200 pounds. “I wasn’t intimidated by the bigger guys. I have played against some guys who are a lot bigger, and some really good players, but if you play fast and get low, you can usually do pretty well.”
Deluca has the same attitude in lacrosse.
And in the classroom.
At last check, Deluca was ranked 10th in his senior class, and the honor student hopes to do even better when final report cards come out.
“I’ve always done pretty well in school,” said DeLuca, who is in honors classes. “I usually make sure I do my homework as soon as I get a chance because I love playing sports and being active. I know it’s important to do that, but I’d rather be playing sports, so I try to take care of that, then go out and do things.”
That attitude will serve him well next year. He hopes to go to college and if the opportunity pops up, he would love to play either football or lacrosse at the next level. But either way, he plans on being successful.
“I would play whatever, as long as I’m able to,” DeLuca said. “I don’t know where I’m going, but I know I want to major in biology. I want to eventually become a (veterinarian).
“I’ve always liked animals, I’ve always had animals growing up. We have two dogs and two cats now. I love them all, I love all animals.
“Being a veterinarian is hard. There’s not a lot of schools that offer it, so I will have to do well in college so I can get in. But it’s definitely something I want to do. I mostly want to do it because I’d like to have a job where I can help them. It’s always been something I’ve wanted to do.”
But before he’s a vet for animals, he’ll continue to be a veteran presence for the Crusaders.
Judge has the potential to have a nice season next year and beyond, and the underclassmen are learning a lot from players like DeLuca, who serves as a captain.
He’s taking that role very seriously and hopes that his leadership can serve the team well beyond this spring.
“We’re trying to show the younger players what you need to do,” DeLuca said. “We have a lot of good younger players. I’m really happy we’re playing. We didn’t have a normal season, but this is great. We’re playing and having fun. I hope to play next year, but I’m not sure, so I want to play as long as I can with these guys.”