October 26, 2010

McKeesport duo is special

Jim Ward is in his first year as head coach at McKeesport Area High School, but knew early on that he had two pretty special players in Delvon Simmons and Branden Jackson. This past weekend, the talented duo made an official visit to Iowa, whose coaching staff has known Ward for some time now. Ward talks about the visit, when his players might decide, and much more.

Q: Have you had a chance to talk to Delvon and Branden today about their visit to Iowa?

WARD: Yeah, I talked to Branden more at length than I did Delvon. I talked to Delvon more on Sunday and then visited with Branden today when he got back.

Q: What were some of their impressions from what you gathered?

WARD: I think with both of them, they were impressed by the atmosphere at the game and all that entails. Then, I think they really liked Coach Ferentz and his laid-back approach. They were impressed with the facilities they saw and I know the weight room was something that stuck out for both of them. Mostly, I think they felt very comfortable around the players and that was something they both pointed out to me on separate occasions. They just liked their demeanor and got along real well with the players.

WARD: Delvon has been outstanding. He's been completely dominant and had an incredible year thus far. This is my first year here at McKeesport, so all of the things beforehand is based on me watching film and seeing him in the weight room, but once we were able to put the pads on and start playing football, he elevated so many levels in my eyes. He's got an incredible burst off the football, uses his hands extremely well, disengages off his blocks very well, and plays sideline to sideline. Most of the time, he's just been unblockable. He actually leads our team in tackles as a defensive tackle. I know wherever he ends up going, there's potential for him to be a great player.

Q: How about Branden and his potential?

WARD: Next to Terrelle Pryor, Branden might be the most athletic player I've ever coached. He's got just every physical tool. He's very long, very athletic, very fast, and has a quick burst. Branden's athleticism is probably his best attribute and he's really having a great season. We're playing him on the outside and teams are really shying away from running at him, so his numbers might not be as good as Delvon's, but he's had a great year so far. I think no matter where he ends up, if it's a 4-3 defensive end, his burst off the ball and his ability to turn the corner will be a handful for anybody to block. Then, if he stays at linebacker, a lot of people that watch him feel like he's got a lot of LaVar Arrington in him.

Q: Where are you guys at in your season right now?

WARD: We are 7-1 and we're playing for the conference title this weekend. Then our playoffs will begin on November 5.

McKeesport plays at Gateway this Friday.

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