Paul Falewicz

Week 12 Thoughts: 2nd Round Playoff Edition

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Mr. Excitement

Deonte Harris was named the 2017 Most Valuable Player in the NE-10 earlier in the week. Last Saturday afternoon, he showed why he won that award.

Harris had four touchdowns in Assumption's 45-26 victory over Findlay in the second round of the playoffs. The Greyhounds now move on to face top seeded IUP next Saturday for the Super Region One championship.

"This is a big accomplishment for us," Assumption all everything Deonte Harris said.

Harris did it all in the game and single-handily defeated the Oilers. He earned the nickname Mr. Excitement because of days like last Saturday. When he touches the ball, exciting things happen.

Catch and Run

Harris was very quiet last week in the victory over California. He had just one catch for 14 yards and was bottled up pretty well. But that all changed this past week.

He was thrown the ball four times in the first quarter as the Greyhound coaching staff wanted to get him involved early. And then the game changed early in the second half.

Harris hauled in a pass right in front of the Assumption sideline and then slipped by the defender for a 39-yard touchdown. It was the beginning of a huge second half for the junior.

"Our coaches always talk about us needing a spark and I just wanted to be that spark for this team," Harris said.

Right after Findlay scored, it was Harris again. He took the first down throw from Marc Monks across the middle of the field and just outran the entire Findlay secondary for a 76-yard touchdown.

He finished his receiving day with eight catches for 168 yards and two scores.

Don't Kick to Him

If having himself the day at receiver wasn't enough, we saw the other side of Harris in the return game.

Early in the fourth quarter, Findlay drove the field and seemed like they were in the game. And then enter Harris.

He would receive the kickoff at the one yard line and then would find a seam and take it all the way back to the end zone for a 99-yard touchdown.

"We blocked it to a tee," Harris said of the first return. "I just found a hole and I hit it."

"Better," Findlay head coach Rob Keys said about Harris in person than on film. "I was impressed with him on film. We attempted to kick it deep and he got it on the goal line. I thought that the kick was great but the coverage was pretty average. He took it 99 and I take full responsibility. I probably should have kicked it short."

Findlay would then get on the board twice with a touchdown and field goal before Harris would shut the door in their face. The Oilers kicked the ball short and it went through two sets of hands for the Greyhounds. But guess who was still at the end ready to grab the ball.

Harris scooped up the ball at the 20-yard and the rest was history. He found a seam, broke a couple of tackles and then outsprinted the kickoff team again for a touchdown.

"The second one, I blinked and I was still running,"Harris said. "It was good blocking by my guys up front."

"You saw a physical side of him today," Assumption head coach Bob Chesney said. "They tried to do everything possible not to kick it his way and it still ends up in his hands. There were three men that tried to tackle him that he just ran through."

He finished his return day with three returns for 194 yards and two scores.

"He is a special player," Keys said. "He is a dynamic kid and one of the best that I have seen in a long time."

Overall, he set a school record of 362 all-purposes yards in the victory.

Record Breaking

Harris has already cemented his name in the Division II record books but this most recent performance just keeps rewriting it.

He is now the all-time leader in return touchdowns with 12 at the Division II level. Seven of those via the punt and now five via the kickoff. That breaks the previous record of 11 by another NE-10 return specialist Stephan Neville of Stonehill.

He also set the single season Division II record for returns with eight that was held by Terry Guss since 1994. He tied the all Division record that is held by Larry Beavers of Wesley (Division III).

He is one career return touchdown behind Beavers' all-time any Division record where he accumulated 13 over his career.

He is also now the all-time all-purpose yardage leader in Assumption school history. He has now 4,761 yards in his three years surpassing the previous mark of David Canney.

He is one of the most dynamic players ever to play in the NE-10 and now the country.

The Paul Effect

I have seen Harris play several times a year over the past several years. It seems that he saves his best games for me when I see them in person.

I was there in 2015 when he returned two punts for scores in a Friday night victory over Bentley. That was the beginning of a freshman campaign that showed why he was nicknamed Mr. Excitement.

Earlier this year, he returned another two punts for scores in a victory over New Haven and I was there. And now this past Saturday, another two kickoff returns for a score.

I also saw him return a kickoff for a touchdown up at St. Anselm back in 2015. I have seen more than half of his return touchdowns in person and each one seems to get more exciting.

For the coaches of IUP and the opponents for the rest of his career, kick the ball into the parking lot. He still might return the kick for a score but will have to dodge more traffic than on the field.


The Assumption defense did its job last Saturday and then some.

They managed to contain Harlin Hill candidate Daouda Sylla to just 83 yards in the victory. It was the work of the defensive line and the linebackers as they held Sylla in check and he was only to break off a long run of just 15 yards. But it started in practice with the scout team.

"CJ Herson, one of our scout team players, was unbelievable and brought it all week long," Chesney said. "He prepared us and just how serious he took his role as a scout team player so seriously. It helped us know what was next. We had to play a physical game and they did just that."

Despite giving up 518 yards of offense to Findlay, the defense shined when it mattered most. They took away the strength of the Oiler offense and made them beat them through the air.

"We just fed off the energy of Deonte," Assumption linebacker Bryce Jacob said. "They had the ball a long time. It is the second round of the playoffs. It doesn’'t matter if you are tired, it is win or go home."

Carlins Platel took back a pick six for 72 yards to seal the game and Calvin Millner also picked off a pass late in the victory.

The Greyhounds were once again opportunistic and they will need to continue that magic next weekend.

One and Done

We talked about the depth last week for the Assumption quarterbacks and it was on display again. They played all three signal callers against Findlay and it was the second half that might be a glimpse of the next game.

Brendan Tobey was playing decently in the first half but the Greyhounds needed a spark. Enter Marc Monks and two quick touchdown passes to help jump start the team.

"We felt that we needed a spark," Chesney said about the insertion of Monks.

Monks and Harris provided the spark for Assumption. Monks was just four for five in the second half but it accounted for 146 yards and two scores.

In fact, the Assumption offense ran just nine plays in the second half and had the ball for a mere 4:20 of game time. They had a 63-yard touchdown rush by Dylan Oxsen called back for a holding penalty. They were clicking on all cylinders in the limited amount of chances.

For the second straight week, the Assumption offense was outgained by over 200 yards but they won both games. It is something that they would like to fix and will need to fix against an opportunistic team like IUP.

Every 6 Years

It seems like every six years that the NE-10 makes it to the regional championship round and quarterfinals of the Division II playoffs.

It started in 2005 when CW Post (as they were known then) won a couple of playoff games and made it to the regional final. They lost to East Stroudsburg in that game and it was the first time that a NE-10 team advanced that deep.

Fast forward to 2011 and it was New Haven's turn. They had a first round bye and then defeated Kutztown to make the regional final. They lost to Winston-Salem State on the road to end their playoff run.

And now in 2017, Assumption wins a couple of home playoff games to make the regional final. Victories over California and Findlay have the Greyhounds playing for the first time in December and a regional championship.

Let's hope that we don't have to wait until 2023 before another NE-10 makes it this far in the playoffs.


Speaking of December, it will be just the second time that a NE-10 football team suits up for a game in the month.

New Haven played Winston-Salem State on December 3, 2011. When CW Post made their trek through the region, the season kicked off before Labor Day and their regional championship game was played on November 26, 2005.

There are just eight teams left in the Division II playoffs and one of them is from the NE-10. It is a far cry from years gone by when they exited in the first round or failed to make it.

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