Smith shakes off mistakes in Del-Val win

Posted: September 20, 2012

Like most high school football teams, Delaware Valley Charter uses the protect-the-ball drill, where guys run through two lines of players and/or coaches and everyone is trying to cause a fumble.

Antron Smith often fares great in that one, thank you.

But when it comes to taking simple handoffs and making sure the ball remains in his belly before it gets transferred to his right hand . . . now you're talking trouble.

Early Thursday night, anyway.

As the Warriors met Communications Tech in a Public AA game at the South Philly Super Site, Smith was given four early carries. To borrow a baseball term, he batted .500. Yes, he fumbled twice, and no one even hit him. And the second one occurred at CT's 9.

"I was timid," said Smith, a 5-9, 175-pound junior halfback. "I came in a little doubtful about whether we could win. I'm not sure why. I just didn't have a good feeling in the beginning. Kind of had to see what was going to happen.

"Really, the handoff was a little messed up on those plays, but that's something where I have to take the blame. Fumbles are the running back's fault because he's supposed to secure the ball."

In time, Smith was major as D-V secured a 12-0 win.

On carry No. 5, following a short punt and just one series after his second screwup, he was given the ball on the possession's first play and bounced an inside give around the left end. Bingo! He steamed down the sideline for a 27-yard touchdown.

And then, 4 minutes into the fourth quarter, here came the fumble thing again. In a good way!

On a CT punt return, Smith stripped the ball at D-V's 36. It bounced, he gathered it in and scampered 49 yards to the Phoenix 15. Soon, tight end William Turner was reaching high in the end zone to snag a 9-yard scoring pass from Rashan Cade; it was the Warriors' lone completion.

See? All can end well that starts horribly.

"Losing fumbles like that was embarrassing," Smith said. "I had to make up for them and do my job the right way. I didn't think they'd stop giving me the ball. Just had to stop fumbling it."

Smith said the TD play was a 24 dive.

"I cut back, broke a tackle and ran somebody over to get in the end zone," he said, simply. "It felt good to put our first points on the board. And I thank our O-line for the blocks."

On the punt-return fumble, Devon Brunson caught Nate Barnes' punt on CT's 42 and ripped off a 22-yard gallop before experiencing difficulty. Two or three Warriors swarmed him and in another instant or two, whistles to stop the play might have been blown.

"I knew we had to get the ball back so we could add another touchdown to our lead," Smith said. "The players stood him up, and I just stripped it out. I had to get it off the ground, but it came right to me.

"It looked like he didn't want to carry it anymore. Like he knew he was going down. That was why I ripped at it. I thought I was going to score, but they eventually caught me."

Turner's touchdown came on fourth-and-goal. A 2-yard loss and a 5-yard penalty had momentarily gummed up the works.

Speaking of 5-yard penalties . . . There were 15 in the game for procedure/offsides/delay and D-V was charged with 11. CT added a 16th for having 12 men on the field prior to a snap.

Smith finished with 15 carries for 88 yards and his backfield partner, Donte Walker, posted a 13-51 effort. The grunts were center Tyler Perkins, guards Andrew Jackson and Daravann "Chino" Lok, and tackles Shawn Thompson and Tyrique Wallace.

Smith, who collected one other fumble recovery, seven stops and a half-sack, played tackle and linebacker, depending on situations, on the defensive side. D-V, in fact, had a few lightweights along the D-line, but quickness/grit enabled them to fare well.

"I prefer offense, but I play defense, too, because that's where they need me," Smith said. "I put my body out there for the team."

Solomon Fitchett, at end, also played well for D-V's defense (10 tackles, one sack, two other TFLs).

For CT, which dressed just 22 players and lost headliner Abdur Saaba in the early going to an Achilles' strain, Diquan Gilbert rushed 19 times for 83 yards. He was also a defensive terror.

After looking shaky in its first two games, D-V last week notched a big surprise by taming Archbishop Carroll, 28-17.

"That was our building stone," said coach Shelton Farmer.

Smith began his high school years at Martin Luther King, but where he lives - on Godfrey near Wister, in East Germantown - is footsteps from Imhotep Charter. He said he applied there out of eighth grade, but was not granted admission. "I love being at Del-Val. I'm glad I'm here," he said.

Thursday night, once Antron Smith started holding onto the ball and capitalizing on others' miscues, the feeling was mutual.

In another game

Bok 40, Boys' Latin 0: Michael Riley passed 4-for-4 for 99 yards and one TD apiece to Larry Pelzer and Antoine Whitney as the host Wildcats dominated the AAA game. Pelzer added 111 yards and one score on 15 carries while Whitney notched two interceptions. Riley ran for two short TDs and posted a pick.

Contact Ted Silary at silaryt@phillynews.com

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