Providence High’s Drake Deluliis has worn a cast on his left arm all season. A 6-foot-6, 218-pound senior, the Panthers’ tight end missed his team’s first two games - against Charlotte Latin and Vance - and played two weeks ago in the third game against Myers Park.
Deluliis, whose team had a bye last week, hopes to be cast-free and 100 percent Friday at East Mecklenburg.
“It’s been hard to be out when you really wanted to play,” he said.
Deluliis has committed to play in college at Virginia Tech. He is ranked by national recruiting site scout.com as the state’s top tight end prospect and No. 27 nationally. He said he chose the Hokies over South Carolina.
“Blacksburg was the perfect mix of academics and football,” Deluliis said at practice last week. “It was home for me when I went there.”
He hurt his wrist at a camp last April and suspected it might be seriously injured but he didn’t want to miss college camps. But by late June the pain worsened and he had surgery July 1, when doctors inserted a steel rod in his wrist. He couldn’t play or practice for weeks and lost 18 pounds.
He’s since regained weight and hopes to provide a spark for Providence, which is 0-3 and only produced about 450 yards of offense in three games. Last season, Deluliis threw for 323 yards, ran for 632 and had 103 yards receiving, often playing out of position at quarterback. Now, he’ll be paired with East Carolina recruit Blake Proehl in Providence’s receiving corp as the Panthers look to get rolling.
“Blake gives you a different look,” Panthers coach Brad Bowles said. “He’s big and strong and physical. We missed him the first two games. With that big ol’ club on his hand, he’s not catching passes yet, but when he does that makes him much more dangerous. It gives us a different gear.”
▪ Mallard Creek, No. 1 in the Associated Press N.C. 4A poll and in the Observer’s Sweet 16, will try to complete an S.C. sweep of sorts Friday. The Mavericks beat reigning S.C. 4A champion Rock Hill Northwestern in a scrimmage last month, and followed that up with a win over reigning S.C. 2A champion Dillon to start the season. Friday, Mallard Creek - which also beat S.C. power Byrnes - will play 2015 S.C. 3A champion Rock Hill South Pointe. South Pointe has won the past two 3A state titles and has won four state championships in 10 seasons.
▪ Three Observer-area players rank in the top 10 nationally in tackles: Union Academy’s Jeremy Miller is fifth with 87. Rock Hill Northwestern’s Ali Shockley is sixth with 75, and Davidson Day’s Chase Monroe is No. 10 with 71.
Wertz: 704-358-5133; Twitter: @langstonwertzjr