Trib HS Insider Q&A: Hempfield's Joey DeFloria
Hempfield running back Joey DeFloria arrived at Spartan Stadium last Friday night expecting his team to get another victory.
What he didn't foresee was the electrifying performance he was about to put on.
“That really didn't hit me until the next morning, when I said to my parents, ‘Do you realize what we've just done? We've won our first two games and we beat one of our closest rivals last night,' ” said DeFloria, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound junior.
He scored three touchdowns, including two on punt returns of 65 and 85 yards, as Hempfield spanked Latrobe, 43-7, giving the Spartans a rare 2-0 start. His other TD came on a 14-yard run to open the scoring.
DeFloria, a three-year starter for Hempfield, sat out half of his sophomore season with a high ankle sprain. He also plays center field for the Spartans baseball team and was considered one of the top sophomores in the WPIAL in 2011.
Q: Have you ever returned two punts all the way back in the same game before?
A: Nope, never have. I'd scored on offense before, but that was it. I returned a few punts for touchdowns when I was younger, before high school. But that was crazy (on Friday). I never had that feeling before.
Q: Well, describe that feeling after scoring three touchdowns and hearing the fans cheer you on?
A: It didn't seem like much when I scored the first time, but when I came back to the sideline, I said “Whoa.” Then, I took the second one back and that got me really going. I just wanted us to win the game so bad. Saturday morning, I really started to realize that we beat a rivalry team.
Q: As far as this season goes, with a new coaching staff coming in, knowing there'd been very little success here in recent years, how much did the guys on this team talk about the idea of trying to turn this thing around?
A: It was slow rolling at first. All that the coaches talked about was trust — trust the coaching staff. In the summer, we started to trust, and more players came out for the team. I'd say about midway through the summer — 2-3 weeks before camp started — we clicked as a team.
Q: How special does it feel to start off on the right foot?
A: It feels great to start off 2-0, especially with people talking down to you. Everybody's more excited about practice. We really started to get excited after that first win (33-18 at McKeesport on Aug. 31), and people were backing us up.
Q: Do you have an idea what you'd like to do after high school?
A: As far as sports, I'm not sure, yet, if it's going to be football or baseball. From the academic standpoint, I'd maybe like to get into the medical field. I've been studying nursing. I don't know how I got hooked on it. That stuff has interested me ever since eighth grade, when we started taking anatomy.