High School Sports

Mission Prep’s defense has been stingy all season

Mission Prep’s football success this season has come in part because of a lock-down defense that has kept teams under 20 points in all but two matchups this season. 

And in discussions with coaches and players about what makes that front so strong, two players whose last names coincidentally start with “D” come up often.

Andrew DeSesa and Andrew DaRosa not only lead their team in tackles with 71 and 49, respectively, they lead the Royals emotionally as well.

Both are intimidating figures, particularly in a division of smaller schools. 

DaRosa, a lineman, stands 6-foot-2 and weighs a rock-solid 265. DeSesa is a 6-3, 230-pound linebacker who has also played center since Brendan Ikeda got hurt earlier this season.

“DaRosa and DeSesa really set the tone for our defense,” Royals coach Chad Henry said. “They dominate the line of scrimmage and get to the ball really well.” 

The Royals routinely get eight or nine guys to the ball on gang tackles and the two “Ds” often are in the middle of the pile, Henry said. 

DaRosa said that currently he’s the strongest he’s ever been after spending hours building up bulk and strength. But he’s also a player that needs to be mindful of his health on the field. 

“An MRI showed that I have a spot on my brain so before each season, I have to do a follow-up and make sure the doctors say I’m OK to play,” DaRosa said. “My sister also had spots and developed multiple sclerosis.”

Despite the concern, his love for the game won’t keep him off the field as long as he’s medically cleared to play. 

And he said this year’s squad is the best he’s played on. 

“We’ve had a common goal of working together well and we’ve built a lot of confidence,” DaRosa said. “It all starts with the support we have of each other and the support of our coaches and fans.”

DeSesa lines up a few steps behind DaRose at his linebacker position said that the bond the players have formed on and off the field has made the Royals what they are this season. 

“We’re friends, we get along on and off the field well, and hang out a lot,” DeSesa said. “Off course, we bicker and get on each other, but we enjoy each other’s company.”

For a guy who tore a pectoral muscle in summer training and limits his bench press weight to 205 during the season for a max of 365 as he recovers, DeSesa certainly doesn’t show it on the field. DeSesa had become such a force that teams game plan to avoid him. 

“If I shade one way, they’ll go to the other side,” DeSesa said. “But that means that other guys are going to have more opportunities to make tackles, and if I can help take away some of their strengths then I’ve done my job.”

DeSesa describes his feeling toward tonight’s CIF-Southern Section Northeast Division championship game at Rio Hondo Prep as anxious to get going more than nervous about the performance. 

“If we do our job completely and confidently, I expect things will go well for us,” DeSesa said. “We respect our opponent, but we don’t fear them.”