Undefeated Steelers face rematch in regional playoffs

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, November 13, 2008

For the Suffolk Steelers, Saturday’s first-round playoff game is about more than keeping their season going this season, it’s also about how last season came to a close for the Steelers midget (ages 11-15) team.

The Steelers were division champions last year as well before losing in the playoffs to the Capital City Steelers of Raleigh, N.C.

This fall, the Steelers stormed through the regular season with a 6-0 record and gaudy statistics such as the Steelers shutting out their opponents for 13 consecutive quarters. Now, a year later, the same two Steeler teams will clash Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. at King’s Fork High School.

Email newsletter signup

“I’m happy we’re playing them again,” said Suffolk Steeler quarterback and safety DeQuan Fofana, who’s in his second season playing with this Steeler team.

On both sides of the ball, speed is the Steelers’ strength. Speed and willingness to learn in practice is what’s made the Steeler defense outstanding, said assistant coach William Turner.

“These guys have focus, discipline, they’re willing and want to play.

“You can expect a lot of hitting, a lot of hard hitting. We’re very fast to the ball,” said Turner.

This Steeler team is a mix of veterans from last year’s division title-winning team, but also some players who are out for football for the first time. Despite the mix of experience levels, the learning curve for this team has been impressive.

“At this point in the season, most teams have two or three defenses they can go to,” said Turner, “we’ve been able to put in seven or eight defenses we can line up in and execute out of.”

“It’s just been having hard practices, and we believe in each other,” said Rasheed Deloatch, who plays linebacker and tight end.

Cadaruis Knight has played on Steeler teams for five seasons, but this will be his first time in a playoff game.

“We played this team and lost last year, so the coaches have been telling us we have to be focused and play our hardest,” said Knight.

“I hope a lot of people come and see us play and cheer us on, especially the high school coaches,” said Fofana.

Head coach Kevin Shepherd led last year’s Steeler midget team as well. Shepherd thanks three men for his success with the Steelers, his father Albert Shepherd Sr., Thomas McLemore, the principal at Nansemond River High School who coached Shepherd and the football team at John Yeates High School, and Donald Hill, a classmate and friend of Shepherd who is the head coach at Morgan State.