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No stereotype football jock

GV's Deardorff avoids the spotlight.

Memo to opposing defensive linemen: Jon Deardorff, Garnet Valley's 6-foot-3, 250-pound right tackle, has a weak spot.

Deardorff does not like to talk about himself.

Ten minutes into a conversation, Deardorff begins to become uneasy. He repeatedly looks away and scratches his neck.

"If it was up to me, I would like to stay under the radar," the imposing senior said while defining himself during a recent interview. "I just like to play."

His actions make it clear that his perceived weakness actually is one of his strengths.

Deardorff is a National Honor Society member who carries a 3.4 GPA while taking all honors courses. He scored 1,280 on the SAT and has been offered a full scholarship to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

And get this.

"I don't consider myself a jock," Deardorff said.

That is because he enjoys relaxing with non-sports-playing friends Matthew Mallon and Dan Salvatore in his free time.

"Matt's my best friend," Deardorff said. "Dan is my second-best friend."

The self-proclaimed nerd would rather play strategic video games with those two at home than frequent high school parties. He doesn't even watch college and professional football games.

"When I'm with my friends, I can just relax," he said. "I don't talk anything about football."

Football - and only football - will be on Deardorff's mind tonight. Garnet Valley makes its first state championship appearance tonight against mighty Thomas Jefferson in the PIAA Class AAA final at HersheyPark Stadium in Hershey. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

Deardorff anchors an offensive line that has paved the way for the Jaguars' explosive offense. Garnet Valley, 13-1 overall and winners of eight straight, averages 34.3 points and 378.5 yards per game.

Deardorff has a knack for frustrating defenders 30 to 40 pounds larger. It's a skill he will need tonight when he lines up against Thomas Jefferson all-American Lucas Nix. lists Nix, a 6-foot-61/2, 295-pound two-way lineman, as the nation's No. 26 prospect in the senior class. The University of Pittsburgh recruit has been selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas.

Deardorff relishes the challenge.

"It's really mostly about technique," Deardorff said. "You are not going to knock everybody over. But if you can position them right, you can block anybody."

Good footwork and an ability to contain a 300-pounder have Deardorff destined to play in college. In addition to West Point, he's attracting attention from Penn, Georgetown, New Hampshire and Bucknell. Deardorff is leaning toward the Hoyas.

"He's a very nice kid off of the field," Garnet Valley coach Mike Ricci said. "But he's a really tough, competitive . . . hard-nosed player on the field.

"He knows how to turn it on and compete."

After tonight, however, Deardorff will turn it off for a while, at least until college. That, it seems, isn't such a bad thing.