WILMINGTON — Andrew Watkins, the senior running back who anchored the Salesianum football team’s offense for the past two seasons, garnered many accolades during his two years with the Sals. On Feb. 13, he added another, receiving the 2019 Michael DeLucia Memorial Sportsmanship Award in a ceremony at the school.
Watkins earned second-team all-state honors after a season in which he battled injuries that forced him to miss a few games. The Sals went 6-4 and earned a spot in the Division I state tournament, bowing out to Smyrna in the first round.
The DeLucia Award was established in 1972 by Tom and Pat DeLucia in memory of their son, Michael, who died from meningitis in 1971. It was presented this year by their son Kevin, a Salesianum graduate. The award is presented annually to the senior football player from a Catholic high school “who has exemplified outstanding performance, attitude and character on and off the field.”
Kevin DeLucia noted that Watkins was the 70th recipient in the award’s 48 years, the 26th from Salesianum. There have been multiple winners on many occasions. Another winner was in the audience at the presentation. Watkins’ father, Mike, was the honoree in 1996. The only other father and son to earn the honor are Pat Udovich Sr. in 1984 and his son, Pat Jr., in 2016. Mike Udovich, Pat Sr.’s brother, was the recipient in 1982.
Mike Watkins attended Saint Mark’s, as did his son for his freshman and part of his sophomore years before transferring to Salesianum.
Andrew Watkins thanked his coaches and teammates, many of whom were at the ceremony, for making his success possible. Afterward, he talked about what the DeLucia Award means to him, especially since his father was a previous winner.
“Growing up, he had his football area,” Watkins said of his dad. “He had his trophies and accolades lined up. When I was growing up, I saw it was like the Heisman pose, and as I was growing up I always thought that he won the Heisman. I was a little kid, and I thought my dad was a superhero.
“I always knew it was an honor, and I was always hoping throughout high school to receive it, so I’m really glad I did. When I found out that I received it, I got a call from the family. They said we were the second father and son to earn it. That was really neat to know. The history, especially going to Sallies and the tradition, continuing that, it feels really good to be a part of something bigger than myself.”
Mike Watkins was thrilled to be part of the second father-son duo to receive the award.
“I adore the DeLucia family. Mr. and Mrs. DeLucia are wonderful people. Kevin’s a wonderful person. I couldn’t be happier that he got this award after I did 22 years ago,” Mike said.
The older Watkins said there was no animosity in the house when Andrew decided to switch from Saint Mark’s to the Spartans’ rival.
“It was the best decision that he could have made for his high school career,” said Mike, who adds that he still wears his green and gold. “At 41 years old, it’s a friendly rivalry.”
Andrew is happy to be a part of the Salesianum community and said he was welcomed the day he walked in during the middle of his sophomore year.
“They talk about the brotherhood a whole lot, and it does kind of sound corny sometimes, but it’s something that, once you’re here, you realize and feel it yourself,” he said.
He was part of two very different teams in his years on the field. During his junior year, a team that many observers thought would struggle went 10-3, losing in the Division I state championship to Sussex Central. There were higher expectations in 2019, and the Sals finished 6-5 with a playoff defeat at Smyrna. Still, Watkins said he has no regrets.
“Regardless, if you win or lose, I wouldn’t want to play with anybody else except the guys I was out there with,” he said.
2016 Patrick Udovich, Archmere; David Hazelton Jr., St. Elizabeth
2015 Colby Reeder, Salesianum
2012 Andre Patton, St. Elizabeth
2010 Ryan Kilpatrick, Salesianum
2009 AJ Dillione, Salesianum; Chaz Malewski, St. Mark’s
2008 Andrew Schieffer, Salesianum; Corey Olsen, St. Mark’s
2007 Frank Kurek, Archmere; Sonny Durham, St. Elizabeth
2006 Andrew Szczerba, Salesianum
2005 Nicholas Dominelli, Salesianum
2004 Gene DelleDonne, Salesianum; Dan Meany, Archmere
2003 Joey Wright, St. Mark’s
2002 Ryan Stearrett, St. Elizabeth
2001 Thomas J. Weiss, Archmere
2000 Jack Gillespie, Salesianum; Jeff Fletcher, St. Elizabeth
1999 Louis Wright, St. Mark’s; Matt Swarter, St. Elizabeth
1998 Edsel Torres, Archmere
1997 Kevin Coen, Salesianum
1996 Mike Watkins, St. Mark’s
1995 Jason Maxwell, Salesianum
1994 Rich Conway, St. Elizabeth
1993 Dan McGee, Salesianum; Sean Davenport, St. Elizabeth
1992 Tom Coyne, Archmere; Josh Kasper, St. Mark’s
1991 Ryan Burke, Archmere; Chad Fedorkowicz, St. Elizabeth
1990 Steve Brady, Salesianum
1989 Chris Iudica, St. Mark’s; Shawn Mitchell, St. Elizabeth
1988 Chris Johnson, Salesianum
1987 Mike Lesutis, Archmere
1986 Dave Erfle, Salesianum; Rich Sernyak, Salesianum
1985 Harry Schiavi, Salesianum; Mark Kostic, Salesianum; Mike Benefield, St. Mark’s
1984 Michael Drake, Salesianum; Pat Udovich, Archmere
1983 Roy David Thompson, St. Mark’s; Ken Falkenstein, Archmere
1982 Mike Udovich, Archmere
1981 Joe Garecht, Salesianum
1980 Jeff Thommes, Salesianum; Joe Pileggi, Archmere
1979 Frank Cephous, St. Mark’s, John Ryan, Salesianum
1978 Joe Papili, St. Elizabeth; Mark DiNardo, Archmere
1977 Steve McGrath, Salesianum; Mike LaGasse, Archmere
1976 Bob Hanisch, Salesianum
1975 Chuck Hunter, St. Mark’s
1974 Rom Gac, St. Mark’s
1973 John Carney, St. Mark’s
1972 Mark McLane, Salesianum