Downingtown >> Bishop Shanahan senior Brendan Dearing, a first team All-Ches-Mont League National Division defensive back last fall, wears No. 20 because of his admiration for another green-clad Eagle who wore that number.
“I loved Brian Dawkins’ passion and leadership,” said Dearing. “Even though he wasn’t the biggest guy on the field, he was feared because he laid the big hits on people.”
Shanahan head football coach Paul Meyers said, “Defensively, for his size (5-9, 160), Brendan is very physical, he has very good makeup speed, and he’s very athletic. He covers every team’s best receiver.”
When Dearing began playing football in third grade, he was drawn immediately to the defensive back spot.
“I liked the intensity and physicality of playing defensive back,” said Dearing, whose father, Chris, was a cornerback for Monsignor Bonner in the 1980s. “I think you have to play with an edge if you’re a defensive back.”
One of Dearing’s favorite memories as a defensive back was during his sophomore year, in a first-round district playoff game against Upper Moreland, a 37-7 victory.
“I was playing defensive back, and when our starting cornerback and captain broke his collarbone in the second quarter, I had to move to cornerback,” said Dearing. “I was lucky — he had been teaching me a lot about playing defense, and then, on a third and 10 play, the Lower Moreland quarterback started rolling right, and I came up from cornerback to tackle him for a big loss.”
Dearing has also been a potent offensive threat for the Eagles this fall. Last week, he grabbed eight passes for 161 yards in a 29-6 win over Glen Mills, lining up as a slot receiver in the Eagles’ spread offense. The previous week, he grabbed two long touchdown passes early in the Eagles’ 56-13 romp against George Washington.
“Offensively [as a slot receiver] he’s got really good hands, good speed (4.69 laser time in the 40) and he’s smart,” said Meyers. “He can run patterns based on the defense. If he gets a [defensive] matchup that he thinks he will get open on, he will give a call to our quarterback, and the other receivers — they can give a call too. He did it three times against Glen Mills, and it worked really well each time.”
One of the highlights of the win against Glen Mills was a leaping catch along the right sideline by Dearing for a 35-yard gain.
Shanahan quarterback Nick Skulski has been hooking up with Dearing for completions since their days as fourth-grade teammates on the Avon Grove Wildcats in the Bert Bell League.
“I’ve seen [Dearing] do it before,” Skulski said. “It was a flood right play, and I know Brendan was beating the guy. When I put the ball up there, I know that he’ll always catch it.”
Meyers said, “Brendan is one of the best two-way players in the Ches-Mont League. We move him all over the place. He doesn’t have a lot of size, but he does everything well. He’s very versatile and smart.”
Dearing is the second-oldest of five siblings — his sister Mary is a sophomore at Mount St. Mary’s University; his brother Liam is a junior at Shanahan and a football teammate, scoring a 10-yard tocuhdown run in the Eagles’ win against Glen Mills last week; and siblings Aidan and Maggie are in sixth grade and fourth grade, respectively, at Sacred Heart.
The Shanahan senior would like to continue his football career in college, and is considering a number of schools, including PSAC schools such as West Chester and Kutztown.
“If he lines up as a slot receiver, like he does in our spread offense, where the running back is matched up with the linebacker, I think he can do really well in college,” Meyers said.
Dearing, whose favorite course at Shanahan is history, is thinking of majoring in business in college, and is currently taking two business courses at Shanahan.
With a top performer like Dearing on both sides of the ball, Shanahan (2-0) hopes to continue to take care of business this fall.