ANDOVER — Mike DeLaus vividly remembers the three devastating losses to his hated rival.
The now-Phillips Academy senior was on the sidelines for the Big Blue’s 56-33 loss to iconic rival Phillips Exeter three seasons ago. He was then on the field for the 39-6 setback in 2011 and the 35-9 disappointment at the hands of the Big Red the last season, the latter battling a dislocated shoulder that needed surgery soon after.
So DeLaus is overjoyed at the opportunity he and his team has when they take the field in Exeter tomorrow.
“We feel like this is our chance,” said DeLaus, a life-long Andover resident. “After being pushed around by Exeter the last three seasons, we are going in there and we feel like we can win. It will be a great game.”
After Phillips Academy won just four games over the last three years, the Big Blue are now 7-0 and will go for a perfect regular season when they take on archrival Phillips Exeter — which stands at 6-1 — in the 132nd meeting of their iconic rivalry tomorrow at 2 p.m.
At the center of that success has been DeLaus, a running back-turned-outside linebacker who has tortured QBs to the tune of eight sacks and 54 tackles this season.
“He really typifies our turnaround and school motto of ‘Not for self,’” said Phillips coach Leon Modeste. “A lot of our success this year is because of Mike and guys like Mike who have sacrificed for the better of the team. He is very smart and very talented and he loves to go after the quarterback.”
Through most of his youth, DeLaus assumed he would be an Andover Golden Warrior when high school arrived, growing up playing in the Andover Junior Football League and Andover travel team.
But as he reached middle school, he began to consider the school he passed by every day.