CLAYMONT – When the all-state football teams were announced a month ago, a familiar name from Archmere Academy returned to the first team. There, among the best players Delaware high school had to offer was Patrick Udovich Jr.
That may have brought a sense of deja vu for longtime high school football fans. Thirty-two years ago, Udovich’s father, Patrick Sr., was also a first-team all-state selection on offense, defense and special teams. The younger Udovich was happy to keep the family legacy going, getting the honor for his work at fullback, but prouder about what it says about Archmere football.
“We might be a small school, but we’ve still produced very good athletes over the past couple years. I’m just blessed to be a part of it,” he said.
“I was shocked, first of all, because I got second-team all-state linebacker last year. So I though if anything I would get
first-team all-state linebacker, but it worked out for fullback.”
Being selected for the all-state team was not the only good news for Udovich this season. He was a co-winner (along with David Hazelton Jr. of St. Elizabeth High School) of the Michael DeLucia Sportsmanship Award, which goes to a senior for his “performance, attitude and character on and off the field.” It has been awarded by Thomas and and Pat DeLucia for 45 years in honor of their son, Michael, who died in 1971 at 18 months old.
But he is not the first Udovich to receive the award. His father won it in 1984, as did his uncle, Mike Udovich, in 1982. Patrick Sr. and Jr. are the first father-son recipients.
“He was pumped,” Udovich said of his father’s reaction. “I think he was actually more proud of me with the DeLucia Award (than all-state). He was very proud of me for that.”
The other honor bestowed upon Udovich for his senior campaign was one for the player with the most character. The players voted for the winner, and the award is named after the late longtime Auks coach Jerry Ambrogi, who died during this past season after battling cancer.
Udovich recalled that as a freshman he was struggling with Archmere’s rigorous academic demands. Although he played for the junior varsity squad, Ambrogi approached him and said, “How can I help you?” That was typical of Ambrogi, Udovich said.
He remembered defeating Appoquinimink on the last play of the game in 2014, his sophomore season. The first person Udovich hugged after the final whistle was Ambrogi.
“He really gave his entire life to the team,” Udovich said. “I think of how selfless he was. He built an entire football field and named it Coaches Field. That stuck with me. He was always there for me.”
A family affair
Archmere has become something of a family affair for the Udoviches. Back in the 1970s, Patrick Jr.’s grandfather was looking for a Catholic high school for his boys. Some had gone to St. James High School in Chester, but his grandfather decided a change was needed.
So Clement (Class of 1981) became the first Udovich boy to attend, followed by Mike (1983) and Patrick Sr. (1985). All three excelled at football, with Clem and Patrick Sr. playing collegiately at Rutgers, while Mike went on to Millersville (Pa.). All three brothers are in the Archmere Athletics Hall of Fame. One of their sisters also attended.
The next generation of Udoviches included Patrick Jr.’s cousin Nick, who graduated last spring. The two are very close, and visiting Archmere when Nick was a freshman helped Patrick Jr. decide to continue the tradition.
“We were best friends growing up,” Patrick said.
He has a sister who is a sophomore there now, and two younger brothers currently attend St. Thomas the Apostle School in Glen Mills, Pa. Patrick Jr. is already thinking of the damage his brothers might do for the Auks on the football field.
“You’ll see. When they come here, they’re going to be 10 times better than I was. They’re special players,” he said.
Udovich also attended St. Thomas the Apostle, and many of his friends decided to go to St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia. He looked at the Prep, but chose Archmere in part because he would be able to play multiple sports. In fact, he is one of the best lacrosse players in Delaware and has committed to Drexel University to play that sport, although he said football still has a hold on him that may prove to be stronger.
He also expanded his horizons beyond athletics, and says moral philosophy is his favorite class. In addition, he has become as involved in student life as possible. He is a member of the Student Culture Club, and along with classmate Maggie Malloy leads the Military Heroes Club. Udovich never wanted to be someone who attended school and practice and not experience other aspects of high school.
“I try to make myself as smart as I can be and also be involved in the community as much as I can be,” he said. “There are some really, really great people here. I love it. To touch everybody you possibly can at Archmere and make as many friends as you can before you go to college, that’s what I am all about.”