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Determan provides guts for Shamrocks
Before the Yuma Catholic football team's game at then-unbeaten Buckeye in the fifth week of the season, Shamrocks coach Rhett Stallworth noticed it.
He saw the Hawks players dancing during warm-ups. He saw them waving their hands to the Buckeye crowd. He saw a team that thought it would have no problem handling the reigning Division V champion Shamrocks.
On the opening kickoff, Shamrock senior Andy Determan followed his blockers and broke free for an 85-yard touchdown return.
“Earlier that week Coach Stallworth told us that this team doesn't play 100-percent on special teams and when he says that I trust him, because every time he's said that I've taken one to the house,” Determan said.
“We hit our wedge and Andy runs up there with reckless abandonment and no regard for his body at that point. I think he single-handily won the game at Buckeye,” Stallworth said about their 37-24 win. “It just broke their spirit and then the next thing you know — boom, boom, boom — we put up 21 points before they even woke up and realize we're here to play football.”
There is a fine line between gutsy and crazy — and Determan seems to walk it every game. On the Shamrocks' kickoff team, it's Determan — a starting outside linebacker and key contributor on offense — who sprints down the field ready to blow up the other team's wedge like he's a human missile.
“He just does the things that you ask people to do that they don't do. He'll go down on kickoff and he's a wedgebreaker. He'll fly into them like he's Superman,” Stallworth said. “His body is flailing and he knocks them over like he's bowling with his body.”
“I know it's going to hurt, but that's why we have helmets,” Determan said. “I got shoulder pads and a helmet, so it might hurt for a little bit but it'll go away. If there's a 230-pound lineman and I run into him, it shows I'm not scared of him at all. I want people to know I'm not scared of them when I run into that wedge.”
Fear is no issue for the 5-foot-7, 155-pound Determan, who has played in two state championships for the Shamrocks — including scoring an 8-yard touchdown run in their 21-19 victory over Northwest Christian last season. For as much as he simply sacrifices his body on special teams, Determan uses his sharp mind on defense, routinely recognizing formations and barking out orders on where the other team's play is going.
“He'll line up and tell you what plays they're going to run. It's like having another coach out there,” Stallworth said. “Some guys out here you can coach them that until you're blue in the face and it still doesn't seep in but it does with him right out of the gate.”
And considering star linebackers Ryan Gill and Tyler Moreno graduated from the Shamrocks' 2011 championship team, a heavier burden has been laid on the shoulders of Determan, who is second on the team in tackles with 77. Stallworth praises Determan's ability as an outside linebacker to do his assignment on the exterior and still find ways to help in the inside.
“I'd bet 90-percent of the time on third downs, Andy's the one who made them have to punt,” Stallworth said.
Determan hasn't rushed for more than 2,000 yards on the season like Shamrocks running back Kody Hazlett. He doesn't have 100 tackles on the year like sophomore Moisis Barcenas. But during an awful team practice in his freshman season, one of his coaches had seen enough.
“You can't even do the little things right!” the coach shouted at the team.
That stuck with Determan. Since then, Determan has thrived in taking care of the subtle tasks for the Shamrocks — like calling out formations, blocking opposing defensive backs or sprinting down the field on a kickoff ready to sacrifice his body like an adrenaline-fueled daredevil.
“The big games,” Determan said. “They come down to the little things.”