When the NEC decided to play in the spring to make up for the lost games of the fall, many questions and thoughts of uncertainty arose surrounding the Duquesne Dukes.
How will a spring college football season work? Who will take over the offense? How will restrictions affect practice and preparation?
In times of uncertainty, the most important players to a team are veterans that can use experience to lead the way and guide newcomers. For the Dukes, no one is more of a veteran leader than senior safety Spencer DeMedal.
“He has lived up to and exceeded what we expected out of a young man like himself that is a highly intelligent player, very hard worker, and a physically talented player and a huge part of our defensive scheme,” head coach Jerry Schmitt said. “He’s done a great job, a long with some others, of keeping what we believe is a generally young football team focused on getting better each and every day that we practice and then each and every week we go out and play. It’s hard to put enough good words about Spencer on paper because we’re just so impressed with the way he continues to lead our team.”
Duquesne’s defense allowed just 13.5 points per game and 107.2 passing yards per game this season, leading the NEC in each category. DeMedal led that defense in interceptions with two, tackles for loss with 3.5, and was second on the team with 26 tackles. After posting 2.5 tackles for loss and a pick last game against Bryant, DeMedal won NEC Defensive Player of the Week, an award that fellow senior safety Leandro DeBrito won the previous week.
“Every week we just want to go out and communicate well with each other and just play to the best of our abilities,” DeMedal said. “Every week we obviously want to hold opponents to a shutout but we’re just gonna go out there and do our best to limit their points as much as possible. The efficiency is something we don’t even think about. We just want to go out there and play and hopefully the rest just comes with that.”
Holding the opponent to a shutout is exactly what DeMedal and the defense did against Wagner in week 2, when the Dukes won 17-0 and the Seahawks gained just 156 total yards.
Seniors like DeMedal and DeBrito have been complimented well by young players like sophomore linebackers Todd Hill and Jahan Worth, who each have 21 tackles and two tackles for loss on the year.
That leadership and assistance to the team combined with the stellar play of the defense has helped the Dukes to a 4-0 start, a Top-25 ranking, and spot as host of the NEC Championship game, where the Duquesne will take on Sacred Heart on Sunday at 2 p.m.