Determined duo DePaola, Dimes helped Hereford thrive in fall and spring

When the Hereford boys lacrosse team won its fourth straight state championship, seniors Tyler Dimes and Vince DePaola were forever linked as three-time state champs.

The 2011 North County News Athletes of the Year were members of third-year coach Brian King's first state championship squad in 2009 as sophomores and played major roles in the team's 63-3 mark during their tenure.

Dimes, who led the Bulls with 97 points during his senior season, was also the leading scorer (12 goals, three assists) for the soccer team that reached the state semifinals each of the past two seasons.

He'll play lacrosse at the University of Delaware next season.

DePaola, who King called "one of the best midfielders in the county," was the leading rusher for the football team in the fall and a hard-nosed, run-stopping safety for coach Steve Turnbaugh's Bulls.

He'll follow in the footsteps of older brothers, Andy and Nick, and play football at Rutgers University, in New Brunswick, N.J.

Andy graduated from Rutgers in 2010 and Nick is a junior there with three years of athletic eligibility remaining for the Scarlet Knights.

"(Vince) must be one heckuva football player, because he is awesome in lacrosse," said King who could envision DePaola playing Division I lacrosse if he wanted.

In addition to sharing faceoffs with standout specialist Ted Demiris, DePaola was not afraid to lay the wood to rival midfielders as a shortstick defender.

Meanwhile, Dimes was a prolific playmaker who produced in big games.

"You have Tyler, and you have playoff Tyler," said King, who watched Dimes' emergence as a peak performer in a 2010 state semifinal when he scored four goals and added five assists in a 19-7 win over Parkside.

Dimes had nine goals and three assists in the playoffs this season, including a game-high five goals in a 14-7 win over Middletown in the Class 3A/2A state championship game.

He didn't limit his game to scoring and feeding his teammates, though.

"Tyler is one of the best riders," King said. "He never quits on a play, and he has an uncanny knack for groundballs."

On the soccer field, Dimes was the most feared offensive weapon for the 12-4-1 Bulls, despite missing playing time because of a hamstring injury.

"He's a dependable player and he came through when we really needed that crucial goal," coach Mike Lacko said. "Tyler was such a huge threat to everybody. He was always double-teamed, and he found a way to work through it, which was great."

In the Bulls' 1-0 state semifinal loss last fall, Northern coach John Rossi made sure Dimes wasn't going to get many scoring chances.

"He's a very skilled player and we had two good defenders back there on him," Rossi said. "He's a quality player. He's a great player."

DePaola also drew praise from opposing coaches on the gridiron.

"He's one of the best athletes we faced this season," said Franklin coach Anthony Burgos, whose Indians eliminated Hereford in the playoffs.

DePaola, who gained 113 yards for the turnover-prone Bulls in that contest, ran for twice that total (229 yards) against Franklin during a 14-6 regular-season triumph.

The 6-foot, 195-pound fullback's hard running style often made defenders cringe as he dealt out more punishment than he absorbed.

He rushed for 1,524 yards on 241 carries and scored 18 touchdowns for the 9-2 Bulls.

"He was strong and he ran hard and worked hard in the weight room to get himself ready," Turnbaugh said.

The pressure was also on for him to succeed after his brother Andy was a starting quarterback and Nick was a standout fullback.

"He always had big shoes to look up," said Turnbaugh, who watched the youngest DePaola recover from a broken collarbone during his junior year and return for the playoffs. "He did a pretty good job when he finally made it back."

The 2010 season's résumé includes three 200-plus-yard rushing games, although his graduation ends the DePaola legacy that has been an integral part of the county's premier gridiron program since 2001.

"He's going to be missed," Turnbaugh said. "It's a special family."

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