Falcons' Denver part of dominant defensive effort
When Teddy Denver suffered a broken leg in Salisbury's season finale against Southern Lehigh, his football future was in doubt. He wasn't sure if he would step on the field again.
But now, after months of rehab on that leg, Denver has plans of continuing his football career at Lebanon Valley College. The recent Salisbury graduate also had one more high school game left in him, one that he'll remember for quite some time.
Denver, who suited up for the Red Team on Thursday night, was a key piece in the squad's defense that helped secure a 29-27 win in the 45th Annual McDonald's Lehigh Valley All-Star Football Classic. The defense forced six turnovers on the night, two of which resulted in interceptions for touchdowns, at Nazareth High School's Andrew Leh Stadium.
"My doctor told me that it was only going to be a couple of months with rehab and everything," Denver said. "He cleared me for the game about a month-and-a-half ago. I was pretty excited to get back in shape and start playing again."
Denver was one of three linebackers for the Red Team (comprised of players from Lehigh, Carbon and Monroe counties) defense, a unit that had been dominant all week during practice. By the time the game got under way, the defense wasted little time in flexing its muscles even more.
After Northwestern's Cam Richardson gave Red an early 6-0 lead with a 14-yard touchdown reception from Southern Lehigh's Travis Edmond, the defensive barrage got started.
Looking to respond on the ensuing drive, the Gold Team decided to go for it on fourth and one deep in its own territory. That decision not to punt ended up hurting Gold mightily, as Northwestern lineman Chris Trumbauer intercepted a potential screen pass and returned it 28 yards to push Red's lead to 12-0 after a failed two-point conversion.
"All week in practice our defense is what we felt was the strong point," Denver said. "Coach [Jim] Terwilliger likes to have competition like defense versus offense, and I'm pretty sure the defense won every day. We figured we were going to be the strong part."
Gold, which included players from Phillipsburg (NJ) along with Palisades and Northampton County, scored two touchdowns 3:51 apart in the second quarter to seize momentum.
Palisades' Christian Gretzinger capped Gold's first drive in the quarter with a 12-yard touchdown run, and Easton's Dalvyn Reynolds scampered 44 yards for a score to make it a 13-12 advantage.
But it was another defensive play from Red that gave them some more breathing room in the third quarter. Northwestern's Taylor Breininger read a flat route and jumped the receiver for an interception that resulted in a 56-yard score to give Red a comfortable 22-13 lead late in the third quarter.
Gretzinger kept Gold alive with a 45-yard touchdown run to open the fourth, but Chris Marks of Dieruff used a quarterback sneak to give Red a 29-20 lead with 3:09 to play.
Liberty's Josiah Wright hit Palisades' Devin Ramsden on a flee-flicker 40-yard touchdown throw in the final moments, but Red was able to run the clock out.
While the Red Team came away with the victory, there was plenty more to play for than just a tally in the win column. It was a chance to make new friendships and support a good cause in the Ronald McDonald House Charities.
"It was pretty cool to be a part of a team with kids from all different places, EPC [Eastern Pennsylvania Conference] included, to see where you stack up and everything," Denver said. "You never get to play with those guys, so it was pretty cool."