Caesar Rodney grad Duron Harmon in AFC title game again

Plenty of guys go their whole NFL careers without ever making it to a conference championship game.

But Duron Harmon is already heading for his third title tilt in his three-year career with the New England Patriots.

So the Caesar Rodney High grad has learned a little bit about dealing with playoff pressure. He said the big thing is not getting caught up in the hype.SPORTS_FBN-CHIEFS-PATRIOTS_8_KC by .

“You can’t let the game take you out of your element,” Harmon told reporters last week. “If you’re a true professional, the way you prepare for the game … is going to stay consistent. You have to keep your same approach.

“The pressure is real. Some people can handle it and some people can’t.”

The 24-year-old safety will get the chance to see what he’s made of again on Sunday when he and his Patriot teammates take on the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game.

Harmon has been a steady player for New England. He had 20 tackles and was second on the squad with a career-high three interceptions this season.

His five starts have also been a career high for the former third-round draft pick.

Whether or not Harmon gets a shot at winning a second straight Super Bowl ring, however, it was already a memorable season for the Magnolia native.

In early November, his fiancée gave birth to the couple’s second child, a boy they named ‘Dallas.’

Apparently Harmon was on his way to practice when his fiancée called to tell him she was in labor.

“Stuck in traffic, of course, on 95 North for about an hour,” Harmon told reporters at the time. “But I got there and about two hours later, he came out looking beautiful as ever. Just gave me a bunch of joy.”

Of course there’s also some local connections in the NFC Championship Game where the Arizona Cardinals take on the Carolina Panthers.

Not only is former Delaware defensive coordinator Nick Rapone the Cards’ secondary coach but former Delaware State standout Rodney Gunter is slated to start at nose tackle for Arizona. The rookie has already made 11 starts and been in on 19 tackles.

Gunter had a season-high six stops in the Cardinals’ regular-season finale against Seattle.

Interestingly, after Arizona beat Green Bay on Dec. 27, Gunter was asked if the Cards could beat the Packers a second time if the two teams met in the playoffs,

“As of right now, I’m pretty confident we’d win again,” Gunter answered. “We got some vets, some young guys that want this ring really bad.”

Of course, Gunter’s prediction came true, with Arizona edging Green Bay, 26-20, in overtime last week in the playoff rematch.

Jones on Wesley staff

Dante Jones may not be coaching football at Dover High next fall but he will still be coaching football in Dover.

Jones, who was the Senators’ head coach the past three seasons, is planning to be an assistant coach at Wesley College, starting with spring practice.

The former Delaware State defensive back will be working with the Wolverines’ secondary. Jones joins a long list of local teachers and former players who coach at Wesley.

“To me, that’s the lifeblood of our program — finding guys that are local and that want to stay in coaching and want to help develop our team,” said Wesley head coach Mike Drass. “Football is one sport where you’ve got to have support. All of our assistant caches are so valuable. That makes us stronger.

“Dante’s got great experience. We’re excited about it. This kind of solidifies us in the secondary.”

Wesley’s Burrows hanging in

For a first-year college basketball head coach like Dean Burrows, it was a dream come true.

In his first game as Wesley College’s men’s coach, the Wolverines stunned nationally-ranked No. 2 Virginia Wesleyan, 92-91,

It seemed like they might be on their way to another big season.

“I even asked that question to the kids the other night, just to get a feel for what they thought after that game,” said Burrows. “A lot of them said, ‘CAC championship’ and this and that. Some of them even said they got complacent.”

For whatever reason, the dream just didn’t last.

Wesley lost its next six games. The Wolverines are now just 5-11.

But the 36-year-old Burrows isn’t giving up. The Wolverines have won two in a row and still have nine games left as they try to qualify for the Capital Athletic Conference Tournament.

“Our enthusiasm has been incredible,” said Burrows. “Our energy at practice, it’s been unbelievable. You wouldn’t know last week that we were 3-11 — the energy and the talking. It’s been fun.

“I still strongly believe, with every fiber of my being, if we can continue to build upon this. … we’ll be there in the end.”

Odds & ends

  • With the snowstorm limiting the State News to only one printed edition this weekend, we’ll keep you updated on local sports news on our website (Delawarestatenews.net), which can also be accessed through our Facebook page (Delaware State News Sports).
  • Wesley women’s basketball player Brionna Johnson, a Smyrna High grad, is 12th on the school’s all-time scoring list (1,024 points) and fourth in rebounds (855).
  • Dover High grad Trip Thurman, who just finished his playing career as an offensive lineman at Florida, will play in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Carson, Calif. on Saturday. The contest starts at 6 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN2.
  • The shorthanded Delaware men’s basketball now owns its second 10-game losing streak in the past two seasons. In between those two double-digit skids, though, the Blue Hens are a reasonable 15-13 with most of the same players.
  • Dover’s Gabby Brengle, whose daughter, Madison, made it to the third round of the Australian Open this week, still likes collecting the unique towels from the various tennis tournaments Madison plays in. “She traded one so she has a men’s towel, too,” Gabby said with a laugh after Madison’s second-round win. “They’re different every year. That’s really what’s important.”

 

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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