Football Preview: Mea hopes senior dream erases last year’s nightmare for Interboro

UPPER DARBY >> They’ll start filing in one by one, many of them more than an hour before toe meets football for the first time this year. Cloaked in black and yellow, they’ll hover around the stadium, looking for the best pregame tailgate spot before going in and filling the seats of the South Avenue Athletic Complex.

By then, warmups will be fully underway, but the magnitude of the moment won’t be realized until the lights are flashing down on the first plays of the season. For just about everyone, it’s a chance to put whatever happened last season in the rearview mirror. For Danny Mea, it’ll finally be a chance to be home.

“It’s a dream come true. I always wanted to be a quarterback, Friday night under the lights, and finally, it comes true,” Mea said. “I wanted to be a QB since I was six years old.”

Change is the operative word for Interboro this year, and the Bucs don’t need to go much farther than Mea to illustrate that. The senior spent his junior year as a fullback and a middle linebacker for a team that went a decidedly un-Interboro 5-7 and missed a shot at the District One Class AAA playoffs.

The middle linebacker tag stays, but this year, Mea is also the guy calling the shots offensively. It was something he knew when he was clearing out running lanes last year, a time when the Bucs struggled on the scoreboard and on the sidelines.

“I was deciding on going back to quarterback anyway,” Mea said at a recent Bucs scrimmage at Upper Darby High. “I get to see everything. I get to pick defenses apart. I get to be a leader on the field.”

Interboro’s Matt DiSands catches a pass in a recent Bucs scrimmage with Garnet Valley. (Times Staff/Tom Kelly IV)
Interboro’s Matt DiSands catches a pass in a recent Bucs scrimmage with Garnet Valley. (Times Staff/Tom Kelly IV)

Internal strife did the Bucs no favors last year, but as with every dawn of a new season, there’s plenty of optimism in Interboro’s camp. The Bucs won’t be flashy, but really, when has that ever happened? Instead, there’s a rock-solid foundation of seniors that are determined to emerge from the lingering black cloud that was Steve Lennox’s only losing record in his career.

“It’s very different,” tight end and defensive end Chase Pattinson said. “We’re right there. I think we can do it this year. A lot of people already picked (Academy Park) to win the Del Val, so it’s already given us momentum to work hard. The season we had last year was horrible. It was (Lennox’s) first losing season ever. It was kind of bad. I was part of it. I didn’t want to be a part of it, but you take it on the chin, suck it up and move on.”

It used to be a virtual certainty that you could pencil in the Bucs in the eight-team AAA bracket every year, but every program has speed bumps. Pattinson and fellow senior captain Steve Royer anchor a defensive line that figures to give opposing offenses fits. Mike D’Esposito, Lennox’s defensive coordinator for the last 23 years, will undoubtedly have a few aces up his sleeve to keep the Bucs in close games.

On the other side of the ball, Mea will have his fair share of playmakers to work with and he’ll be protected by what should be a solid line. Royer, the starting right guard, expects big things.

“I’d like to say that being the leader of the O-line, we have a pretty strong line, but our backfield has the speed. Our receivers can do what they have to do and Danny Mea can lead the team out there,” Royer said.

Mea has the arm strength to push the ball downfield, where Matt DiSands and Connor Adams will be his favorite targets. Pattinson and slot receiver Chris Hummel give him options underneath, while Chris Thomas and Lamar Shaw give the Bucs a nice duo at running back. Thomas excels on the perimeter, while Shaw put on a show at a recent scrimmage against Upper Darby by bowling over anyone who tried to tackle him.

If they can put it all together, the Bucs could be the Bucs again. While some outside of the locker room have lowered their expectations for Interboro, it hasn’t changed a whole lot with the team.

“Whatever. If they sleep on us, they sleep on us,” Royer said. “We’re going to play our game the way it’s played.”
That’s usually very bad news for the rest of the Del Val.

This story appears in the Delco Times Football Preview, available on newsstands Friday.

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