For the Delia family, football at North Hunterdon High School has been a tradition dating back to 2006. That year, Eddie Delia’s oldest brother Ted began his career with the Lions and every year since, there has been at least one Delia in uniform for North Hunterdon.
From Ted, to middle brother Jack, to Eddie, the Delia family has been as much a part of the North Hunterdon program as any in head coach John Mattes’ career.
“We’ve coached brothers before, but to have three of them excel is remarkable,” Mattes said. “They were all different, but they were all outstanding players for us. All three of them were captains at one point or another and they come from a good family that’s very supportive of the program.”
This past season, Eddie became the feature back in Mattes’ offense and excelled, much like his brothers did before him, rushing for 744 yards and eight touchdowns, earning a spot in today’s Sunshine Football Classic.
It’ll be the 16th classic played at The College of New Jersey’s Lions Stadium in Ewing.
“It’s great to be selected and I feel honored,” Eddie Delia said. “It’s a nice reward and a way to get my name out there.”
Eddie will be the second of his brothers to take the field at the Sunshine Classic, following Ted’s appearance in the 2009 edition. Ted went on to play at Gettysburg College after starring at North Hunterdon and Jack, who was a two-time state runner-up at 285 pounds on the wrestling mat in between dominating the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, received an athletic scholarship to Lehigh University. According to Mattes, he was advised not to take part in the 2011 Sunshine Classic.
So Eddie, a running back who plans to continue his playing days at Moravian College next season, will lace up the cleats for one more high school game and it’ll be the last time a Delia wears a North Hunterdon helmet.
Having seen Ted play on the same field before him, Eddie said he will be a little bit calmer. Also helping the cause will be the four other North Hunterdon players (David Berry, Drew Dickison, Dylan Nemeth and Bradley Straight) on the roster.
“That’s definitely going to help me stay calm and relaxed and it’ll be awesome to play one last time with those guys,” Eddie Delia said. “Having my brothers around on the same team helped a lot because I got to see how to do things and what it took to be successful from them.”
Because the brothers Delia played different positions on the field, it was easy to see that they just went out and played football instead of competing with each other.
“It helped a lot growing up with them,” Eddie Delia said. “I played up with them in peewees and seeing them excel was great. All three of us had the same work ethic and it helped a lot that we didn’t play the same positions.”
Eddie said that his parents, Mike and Linda, are the ones who deserve the most praise for at least his accolades on the field. Mike, a North Hunterdon Hall of Famer, helped instill football knowledge in his youngest son and Linda helped do a lot of the driving associated with youth sports.
“I credit most of my success to my parents,” Eddie Delia said. “They drove me around to everything and my dad has a huge knowledge of what’s going on out there on the field.”
The Sunshine Classic won’t be the last time Eddie straps on his football helmet. But it will close a chapter in the Delia book at North Hunterdon that’s lasted eight seasons and saw three brothers bond over the pigskin.