|Anthony Nobile, left, and Michael Nobile, converge on the Wilkes QB. The two freshmen have combined for 26 tackles for loss.
Delaware Valley athletics photo
By Joe Sager
After losing nine senior starters on defense, Delaware Valley hoped it’d be a matter of reloading and not rebuilding.
The Aggies’ play so far has reaffirmed those aspirations.
Delaware Valley (5-1) has the Middle Atlantic Conference’s stingiest defense at 18.5 points per game.
“We were a little uncertain coming in, but we knew we had some guys here who had been working hard and could step in,” Delaware Valley coach Duke Greco said. “We felt like we could have a pretty successful season after all the chips fell in place.”
After opening with a 34-10 loss at Wesley, the Aggies have been on a roll.
“We do some really good things, at times. Other times, we do some really dumb things. We’ve come a long way, though. We continue to win even though we’re winning ugly, at times.”
— Delaware Valley coach Duke Greco
“Going to Wesley was a challenge. I think our guys wanted it, but it didn’t go like the last two seasons. I think the score was closer than it showed at the end.
“It was a good experience for our guys to see what a championship team really looked like,” Greco said. “We do some really good things, at times. Other times, we do some really dumb things. We’ve come a long way, though. We continue to win even though we’re winning ugly, at times. It’s a good group of kids. I am very fortunate to be around them.”
Defense helped fuel the Aggies’ run to the national quarterfinals a year ago. Delaware Valley gave up just 10.5 points per game, but saw its season end on a last-second field goal with a 31-28 setback to Brockport. Defensive end Christian Snowden and linebacker Vincent DiLeo are the lone returning starters to the young unit.
“It’s going to be fun to see them grow. The expectations here are to win. There are no excuses not to do that,” Greco said. “We have to keep working hard to win games.”
Freshman twin brothers Michael and Anthony Nobile are two of the new faces on the Aggies’ defense. The Temple transfers have made an immediate impact. Michael earned the other starting defensive end spot opposite Snowden, while Anthony shifted inside and has been part of the defensive line rotation.
“Coming from Temple, it’s a lot different, obviously,” Michael said. “I felt like everyone was really cool when we first got here. They were just friendly people and it’s been nice playing alongside them. At Temple, it was more of a business feel. It’s more of a family feel here. We like it here.”
“Coming in here, we didn’t know what to expect. The first week I came in here, I felt a strong bond with everyone. I felt it was a family-oriented team,” Anthony said. “I knew we’d love it. We just plan on getting better every day.”
The brothers, who were partially recruited to Delaware Valley by linebacker, former high school classmate and good friend Billy Walsh, are thrilled to be part of the Aggies’ aggressive scheme.
“My brother and I always wanted to play together in college after high school. Temple was our first step. We thought it’d be a great opportunity to go there, which it was,” Michael said. “When my brother made the decision to come here, I didn’t want to play without my brother; I couldn’t go anywhere else.
“Our defensive coordinators, Nick Brady and Mark DeLucia are big on bringing pressure and bringing the heat and causing teams to throw the ball under pressure. Getting pressure on the quarterback, tackles for loss and hurries are some of the things they really stress. We’re just doing what they are telling us to do and they’ve been putting us in great situations.”
Michael ranks second nationally in tackles for loss per game (3.3) and 38th in sacks per game (.92).
“My brother got off to a really strong start. I am still getting to know the defense and the position; I am picking it up gradually, but I want to pick it up more,” Anthony said. “First of all, winning is everything. I didn’t come here to lose. I came here to win a MAC championship. Our team goal is to win a national championship, but we still have a lot to do. We have to play smart and physical and keep on rolling.
“Right now, we have a really strong defense. With time, we’re just going to keep getting better and better. We have a bright future. We’re not only brothers on the field, but really close off the field as well. I think that translates onto the field, too.”
Delaware Valley (4-0) sits atop the MAC with Misericordia. However, the teams don’t play each other this year due to the conference’s unbalanced schedule. So, the Aggies want to win their last four games to clinch at least a share of their eighth conference title in the last 16 years. They will continue to rely on their defense.
“Up front, our defensive line sets the tone for what we’re doing. They’ve caused a lot of chaos. Hopefully, they continue to do that,” Greco said. “The more amazing thing to me is that, as an offense, we haven’t helped them much. All our games have been close games this year. Guys getting a lot of tackles for loss and sacks when there are still run-pass options for opponents.”
The defense doesn’t mind, though.
“Our goal is to win out,” Anthony said. “If we play the way we’re playing, we can control what we can control.”