Woodmore’s and Genoa’s loss was Central Catholic High School’s gain. Big time.
Derich Weiland, whose family home sits on the dividing line between Woodmore and Genoa high schools, took a group tour of Central Catholic in December 2009. He said he was blown away by what Central Catholic had to offer.
“My dad (Bill) works with one of the Central alumni and was telling my dad about the good characteristics of the school,” Weiland said. “I went to tour Central in the eighth grade, and after that day I kind of fell in love with the school. It was an amazing experience and I fell in love with the school. The teachers were phenomenal and I enjoyed the passion the school had. The students were very welcoming and they all seemed like they got along.”
|Central Catholic junior Derich Weiland. (Press
photo by Scott Grau)
Weiland also talked with the school’s head football coach, Greg Dempsey, whose 2005 team captured the Division II state title. As an eighth-grader at Genoa Middle School – Weiland attended Woodmore schools through the seventh grade – Weiland was a starting running back and linebacker and led the Comets to the Suburban Lakes League title.
“I talked with coach Dempsey, and I was an athlete looking to play sports there as well,” Weiland said. “Knowing they had a good football program, I saw a couple of their games and their field (Gallagher Stadium) was phenomenal. It just opened my eyes, like this is where I want to be and where I want to graduate from. The education was a big thing on my mind.”
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Weiland is only a junior at Central this season but has already made his mark on the program. He was recently voted to the All-Three Rivers Athletic Conference first team as a receiver, cornerback and special teams player. He was the only player in the conference to earn all three first-team honors.
“He was a starter as a sophomore as a slot back and punt returner,” said Dempsey, in his 13th season. “He’s straight-line fast, and he makes people miss. He’s the total package. He has some God-given ability you can’t coach. We knew he was pretty good coming in, but he’s done everything we expect and more.”
Weiland admitted that earning first-team All-TRAC honors at all three positions was a goal this season, but he also praised his teammates and coaches for giving him the opportunity to succeed.
“You always have individual goals you want to set,” he said. “Coming into the season I was excited for offense again and special teams. Defense, I didn’t really get a chance to play a lot last year. In the back of my mind I was hoping to get offense, defense and special teams. I thought that would be pretty neat to accomplish.
“My sophomore year was a successful year and the team bonded really well. We had a lot of chemistry, but there was something about this class that was special. Our coaches are preparing us week after week. They always have us ready, game after game. They put us in the right positions, and that’s the key for me and the team having a successful season. My coaches prepared me and had me in the right places to perform to the best of my ability.”
The fourth-ranked Fighting Irish (12-1) are set to take on fifth-ranked Aurora (12-1) in the D-II state semifinals on Friday night in Huron. Central Catholic outscored its first three playoff opponents - Grafton Midview, Mansfield Madison and Avon - by a 137-28 margin.
Through 13 games Weiland had 30 carries for 191 yards (6.4 average) and one touchdown. He was the Irish’s top receiver, with 32 catches for 476 yards (14.9 average) and seven touchdowns, and had returned 19 punts for 253 yards (13.3 average) with one touchdown. Weiland also returned 11 kickoffs for a team-high 193 yards (17.5 average).
He had 13 tackles at cornerback and had a team-high 12 pass breakups with two interceptions.
Weiland’s athletic success should come as no surprise to those familiar with his background. His brother Billy was a standout wrestler at Woodmore, placing second in the state, and his brother Chris was a running back at St. Francis De Sales as a junior and senior.
Weiland’s success on the football field hasn’t overshadowed his work in the classroom. He has a 4.2 GPA and is ranked 17th out of 220 students in his junior class at Central.
“He’s the most polite kid you’ll meet, and hard working,” Dempsey said. “Nobody tops him in effort. The teachers love him here, and the coaches. I have two sons. As a coach, everybody thinks you want your kids to be great athletes. But if my kids turn out the way Derich is off the field, I will be a blessed father. He is an outstanding young man.”
Weiland said he and his teammates had two main goals this season, to win the TRAC and win a state championship. Whitmer beat the Irish 42-0 to clinch the conference title, but Central is now just two wins away from earning its second state title in seven years.
“This season has been a memorable one,” Weiland said. “After that loss to Whitmer, it stunk, but the playoffs are always exciting. A lot of teams all across Ohio were putting their helmets away after week 10. We started hitting the weights in January and kids showed up and we started talking about winning a state title. That was our goal.”