The Michael DeLucia Sportsmanship Award, which honors a senior football player from a Catholic high school “who has exemplified outstanding performance, attitude and character on and off the field,” has been awarded to multiple players for the first time since 2017. The recipients are Eric O’Neill of St. Elizabeth High School and Kieran Udovich of Archmere Academy.
The young men received their awards on Jan. 27 at Archmere from Kevin DeLucia, the brother of Michael. Pat and the late Thomas DeLucia established the award in 1971 in memory of their son Michael, who died that year from meningitis.
O’Neill was a two-way starter for the Vikings, playing on the offensive line and linebacker on defense. He was a three-year starter, and this past season he was voted a captain by his teammates. He was named first-team all-Class 1A on defense and second team on offense for 2022, and he also was the Class 1A defensive player of the year.
O’Neill finished the season with 106 tackles, 60 of which were solo, three sacks and an interception. He had 19 tackles for loss. For his career, he had 310 tackles (144 solo), 48 tackles for loss, nine sacks, four interceptions, four pass or punt blocks and two recovered fumbles.
The Vikings went 11-2 this past season and reached the Class 1A state championship game for the second consecutive season, falling to Laurel High School. O’Neill said he was proud to be a part of the group that brought the Vikings back to prominence and recalled his sophomore season, when the team went 2-5 in a covid-shortened campaign.
“It all started to come together that year to be one,” he said. “That offseason, we just stuck together as a team and achieved what we wanted to achieve. Our junior and senior year, we just grinded and got together, and we were just one heartbeat. We didn’t end up winning it, but we were pretty close.”
O’Neill is also a catcher on the baseball team.
Off the playing field, he is senior class president and a leader in the Blue-Gold Club and Motorcycle Santa Club, which helps raise awareness of and funds for worthwhile community programs. He is a student ambassador for the admissions department. In the classroom, he maintains a 3.79 grade-point average.
He said he looked at some of the recent DeLucia Award winners and was honored to be included among them. He mentioned recent Vikings Eric and Andre Patton, as well as Salesianum School brothers Troy and Colby Reeder. His school’s president, Joe Papili, also won the award after the 1978 season.
“It meant a lot to me. When I looked up and saw all the history, I was shocked that I would get this award. I looked up the people in the past who got this … it’s a blessing to get this award,” O’Neill said.
Udovich follows in the footsteps of his two brothers, Patrick Jr. and Conor, his father, Patrick Sr., and his uncle, Mike, as a DeLucia Award winner. He said the family has the awards on a mantle in their house, and he was happy to have to make space for one more.
“It just means the world,” he said. “Seeing my older brothers, my dad and my uncle all get it, it’s my last year, I was like, ‘I gotta get it. It would be cool.’ I just try to be a good person, be a good leader on the team, be a teammate to others.”
He was a mainstay on both offense and defense for the Auks as they went 9-3, bowing out in the Class 2A semifinals at Caravel. After returning early in the season following a serious knee injury suffered in the 2021 season, Udovich entered the starting lineup at tight end and fullback on offense and linebacker on defense.
He was a first-team selection for the all-Class 2A defense and second team on offense for 2022. He rushed for 140 yards on just 15 carries and had five receptions for 41 yards. Defensively, he had 45 tackles, 19 solo and 12 for loss. He added two and a half sacks and a forced fumble.
The Auks went to two championship games during his high school career, falling to Howard in 2020 before defeating Woodbridge in 2021 for the school’s first championship since 1982. Udovich said his experience at Archmere is something he’ll always treasure.
“I wouldn’t trade it for the world. These guys are my family. I played with actual family, with my brother, and to win a state championship with him, and to have my uncle and my dad and everybody there who won the award prior, it was crazy. It was surreal,” he said.
Udovich also is a member of the lacrosse team, and he played basketball before suffering his knee injury. Off the field, he is a leader of Archmere’s mental health club, and he is very involved with campus ministry as a leader of student retreats and serving as a eucharistic minister. He also helped arrange team Masses and pre- and postgame prayers, and he gives campus tours. His grade-point average is 3.63.
2020 Jack Palmer, Saint Mark’s
2019 Andrew Watkins, Salesianum
2017 William Hoffman, St. Mark’s; Joseph DiGregorio, Archmere
2016 Patrick Udovich, Archmere; David Hazelton Jr., St. Elizabeth
2015 Colby Reeder, Salesianum
2014 John Dougherty, St. Mark’s; Matt Gallagher, Archmere
2013 Troy Reeder, Salesianum
2012 Andre Patton, St. Elizabeth
2011 Eric 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