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Delk's versatility leads Wesleyan to success

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Senior tight end, kicker and linebacker Rhett Delk is among the leaders on Wesleyan hoping the to help the Wolves advance deep into the playoffs.

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Senior tight end, kicker and linebacker Rhett Delk is among the leaders on Wesleyan hoping the to help the Wolves advance deep into the playoffs.

If you looked at the stat sheet, it doesn't seem right.

Eleven tackles, five for loss, an interception, safety and 42-yard punting average.

It sounds like the stat line for two or three different football players.

But it was just one -- Wesleyan's Rhett Delk.

"It's typical small school football, just the kid does everything," Wesleyan head coach Franklin Pridgen said.

Wesleyan has the smallest enrollment in the state for a Class AA school. The Wolves have to rely on players to play multiple positions, but Delk has taken it to another level.

The senior has become a jack-of-all-trades for Wesleyan, playing linebacker, tight end and handling all of the kicking duties like punting, field goals and kickoffs.

"I think that about covers it. Sells hot dogs and drives the bus," Pridgen quipped.

Delk's versatility has helped Wesleyan reach the playoffs for the fourth time in five years. The Wolves (4-6) have a bye this Friday and will travel to Calhoun next week to play the defending state champions in the first round.

"A lot of people thought we wouldn't win many games," Delk said. "We had a tough schedule and we beat some people that people didn't think we would be beat."

Some of those wins came thanks to Delk. His 11 tackles, five for loss, interception, safety and 42-yard punting average came in a win over Class AAAA's Stone Mountain.

The following week he kicked a school-record 49-yard field goal with four seconds left to beat Brookstone. He also made nine tackles, three for loss on defense.

Delk also had a pivotal touchdown catch on the goal line against Holy Innocents' this season.

"He's a big-time performer at big-time moments," Pridgen said. "I'm very very blessed to have him on our team."

For the year, he's posted a team-leading 76 tackles, one interception, four catches and one TD. He has a 38.9 punting average and has made five of nine field goals and 23 of 24 PATs.

"We didn't want him to do everything, but it just became too obvious that we couldn't survive (without him)," Pridgen said.

Delk's versatility isn't just on the football field. He's a three-sport athlete, wrestling and playing soccer for the Wolves. Delk is a three-time state placer in wrestling, including third-place finishes the last two years.

"I really have a passion for both (football and wrestling)," Delk said. "I really like being active and getting after it."

Delk's athletic career took a major detour when he was in elementary school. Just days before he was to begin fourth grade, he was overcome with excruciating stomach pains. His father took him to the emergency room and they discovered he had Crohn's disease. Crohn's is a form of inflammatory bowel disease, which usually affects the intestines.

Delk had a foot of his intestine removed and complications after the surgery forced him to stay in the hospital for three months.

"It really just gave me hope and not take life for granted because it can end very quickly," Delk said.

Delk returned to an active lifestyle of playing football, basketball, soccer, baseball and wrestling. He said he didn't fully recover from Crohn's until he was in the eighth grade.

"It changed me as a person," Delk said. "It gave me a new perspective. I've been living with it since. I learned that God does great things and that He is always in control."

Delk still has to battle to keep his Crohn's disease in check. His body doesn't absorb water and nutrients properly, so he has to take supplements and drink plenty of water. He's also on medication to help his immune system and eats a healthy diet to try to prevent a flare up.

"He's overcome a serious medical condition, but he's never made an excuse for anything," Pridgen said. "There's not a bone in his body that would ever quit. He's the heart and soul of our team."