Delahoussaey doing what he does best for Wonders

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 3, 2013

KANNAPOLIS — Red means stop. Green means go. In Kannapolis, at least, orange means speed up.
A.L. Brown’s “Orange” package is the team’s version of the spread offense.
Damon Johnson, the team’s athletic backup quarterback, takes the snap, and speedsters Daveon Perry and Rodney Edmonds, who are defensive players first, join the offense. Receiver Johnny Delahoussaey just keeps doing what he’s been doing.
“That package puts all the speed that we have on the field at one time,” A.L. Brown coach Mike Newsome explained. “That’s our speed right there.”
For decades in 3A, the Wonders were faster than almost all of their opponents. In 4A, it’s a different story. The Wonders (4-1) haven’t been shocked by the speed of the athletes they’ve encountered in games with Berry and North Meck, but they’ve been impressed. They know they’ll have to win with game planning, execution and being physical.
Although there are still times, such as in Friday’s 30-14 Mecka Conference win against North Meck, that “Orange” pays off.
North Meck had scored on defense, and the Wonders trailed 7-0 in the middle of the second quarter when they went “Orange.” With multiple receivers spreading the field, the call was for Johnson to throw a sprint-out pass. Delahoussaey, a 4.6 runner, who came into the game with 11 catches for 176 yards and two scores, was the primary receiver.
“The corner was playing me right on the line, I’d been running simple out patterns, and he’d been breaking on the outs,” Delahoussaey said.
This time, Delahoussaey performed a stutter-step to sell the out, but then took off deep.
“I used my speed to run right past him,” Delahoussaey said. “Then I saw the ball coming.”
Johnson, sprinting furiously to his right, had thrown a fine ball, right on target. Most 3A nights, this was a routine touchdown, but this was 4A. North Meck’s safety was flying, and he got there in the nick of time — well, almost.
“I had to fight him for the ball, but I was able to get my whole body in front of him,” Delahoussaey said.
All those years in the weight room paid off for Delahoussaey, who has the biceps of a linebacker. He wrestled the ball away and rolled into the end zone for the tying touchdown. Delahoussaey weighs about 175, but he bench-presses 240.
Delahoussaey first became prominent for the Wonders as a junior in 2012 when the Wonders’ star receiver Keeon Johnson, a Virginia commit, was injured. Delahoussaey had been playing a lot of DB, but he became an important receiving option with Johnson out. Johnny D., as the Wonders’ staff calls him, finished the season with 17 catches for 258 yards and four TDs.
“It was a chance to prove myself, to prove I could play,” Delahoussaey said.
As a senior, he’s improved some more. Now he’s a college prospect.
“Johnny played a great game Friday,” receivers coach Chip English said. “A lot of blocking adjustments we made at halftime were with him, closing him in tighter, and he did a good job in the running game. He’s still developing. but he’s starting to understand the timing with the quarterbacks on all his routes, and now he’s understanding not just his own route, but what the other receivers are doing.”
Delahoussaey’s career game on Friday included a second TD.
This one came on trickery. It was early in the second half with the score 7-all, and the Wonders faced fourth-and-2 at the North Meck 28. That’s a 45-yard field goal, an iffy proposition, so the Wonders were going for the first down. They lined up tight, in what appeared to be an obvious running formation, and North Meck had to be convinced that a power running play was coming.
Quarterback Andrew Ramirez made a great fake that sold the run, but it was a well rehearsed, play-action pass.
“There’s only one receiver on that play — Johnny D.,” Newsome said. “Everyone else stays in to block. Max protection for the quarterback.”
Delahoussaey slipped past the corner and found himself sprinting all alone, like Secretariat at the Belmont Stakes. The safety had bitten on the run-fake and was out of the play. Ramirez delivered an accurate pass. Delahoussaey made the grab for the go-ahead six.
“I was so open — I just had to stay calm and catch that ball,” Delahoussaey said. “It felt great to make a play. Our defense has been the key factor in winning these early games. The offense has to help them out.”
Delahoussaey helped out with 10 receptions for 147 yards on Friday, and the Wonders will need more of that this week when they travel to Vance.
“Our work is cut out,” Newsome said. “They’re the most athletic team we’ve seen so far, maybe the most athletic team we’ve ever faced.”