Football mentality has served Penn Charter's McDevitt well

Posted: March 20, 2003

It was the perfect blend of boredom and testosterone at the perfect time.

Tony McDevitt, then a freshman at Penn Charter, said he had tired of baseball, but thought he had no alternative for a spring sport. Fortunately for him, Tony Resch, the former Penn Charter lacrosse coach who also coached the Philadelphia Wings, spotted him in the hallway and talked to him about lacrosse through the fall and winter.

"You get to hit people," said Resch, who is now the athletic director at La Salle High.

You get to hit people? Hard? Often?

Uh, OK.

So McDevitt tried out for the team. Four years later, McDevitt is a 6-foot, 200-pound defender headed to Duke on a scholarship. He is one of several players to watch in Southeastern Pennsylvania this season.

Others include: Germantown Academy senior attacker and returning all-American David Walsh; Ridley senior defender Rob Tinsley; Lower Merion senior defender Ted Oxholm; Radnor junior goalie Jordan Ellis, and Malvern Prep senior midfielder Bill Liva.

Among the teams to watch this season are: defending state champion Ridley, Malvern Prep, Springfield in Delaware County, Radnor and Penn Charter.

"It was one of the smartest moves of my life," McDevitt said of his decision to play lacrosse.

McDevitt, who also plays football and basketball, played tailback and linebacker last fall for the Quakers, who won the Inter-Academic League championship. He rushed 28 times for 328 yards and four touchdowns in a 35-21 victory over Germantown Academy last fall that clinched the league title.

He calls that one of his greatest sports moments and football his first love. He also said he carries that football mentality onto the lacrosse field.

"There's nothing like a big hit in a lacrosse game," he said. "It turns the tables, you know what I mean? People used to compare it to hockey . . . hockey played on the grass. But even in hockey there's just not these hits. Somebody is bending over to pick up a ground ball and doesn't see you coming and you just clean his clock.

"The hits definitely stand out."

He said a big hit in lacrosse feels worse than a big hit in football for two reasons:

First, there is less padding in lacrosse.

Second, in football you expect to be hit.

"People don't expect somebody flying 100 m.p.h. to come up and hit you," McDevitt said. "In football you have to or you're going to get killed. With lacrosse you're wearing these scrawny little pads.

"When you see some guy come flying through and you hit them, their feet are up in the air; it's great. It's such an adrenaline rush."

As a freshman, that's about all McDevitt did. Hit people. Make their feet stick straight up in the air. But since then he has improved his stick handling. He knows the game better. He knows what to do.

"I still have a lot more learning to do," McDevitt said. "I'm still young in the sport."

Penn Charter coach Pat McDonough said it says a lot about McDevitt's athletic ability and potential that Duke would sign a player without much experience.

"He's only going to get better," McDonough said. "He has so much confidence. If you're Duke, you're looking at the package that he has and you're saying, 'Boy, he's pretty good right now. He's only going to improve as he stops playing football and basketball and starts concentrating on lacrosse a little bit.' "

But when in doubt, whack people.

Contact staff writer Todd Zolecki at 215-854-4874 or tzolecki@phillynews.com.

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