Delmar saw its streak of four straight Henlopen Conference Southern Division titles snapped last season but the Wildcats, although inexperienced on the offensive and defensive lines, return two of the conference's most explosive players in quarterback Dustin Johnson and running back Ian Hudson.
Following is a preview of the 2000 Delmar High School football team.
Photo: Delmar tailback Ian Hudson returns after a standout junior season.
Coach: Dave Hearn
Career: 10th Season, 63-40 overall
1999 Record: 3-3, 5-5
Key Returning Players:
Key Players Lost: Steven Twilley FB/LB; Luke Blanchfield OE/DB; Matt Marine C/DE
Strengths: Tremendous big play threats in senior quarterback Dustin Johnson and senior running back Ian Hudson. Johnson was first team all-state as a defensive back and honorable mention as a quarterback in 1999. The son of former Delmar all-stater Donald Johnson, Dustin scored on runs of 67, 61, 59, 56, 54, and 45 yards, threw touchdown passes of 80, 68, 67, 60, 39, and 27 yards, and returned an interception 41 yards for another score last season. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Johnson has had some feelers from Division I-A Clemson University and Division I-AA Towson. Hudson, meanwhile, was an all-conference selection. He scored on runs of 47, 46 and 75 yards and pass receptions of 39 and 67 yards and had four 100-yard rushing games.
Weaknesses: Hearn says his team has talent on the line with the return of sophomore defensive end Michael Hunt, a first-team all-conference performer last year, but other than that, the Wildcats lack experience on the line. The loss of three-year starting center Matt Marine will hurt the line most, Hearn said. "When you take away your center, it's a jolt to the offensive line." Hearn says that despite a turnout of 100 kids this year, most of the 45 or so linemen are in the 8th and 9th grades and "most can't get into a stance yet."
Hearn on Delmar's Offense: "We'll be a big play type team again. We try to control the ball but we'll still get a lot of those 60- to 70-yard touchdowns."
Hearn's Outlook for the Wildcats: "We have some good returning players with Johnson and Hudson, but other than those, we don't have a bunch of all-conference people coming back. We're young, but I don't like the word rebuilding. I hope we'll be in the hunt along with the rest of them (other teams in the Henlopen South). We have some early season testers with Sussex Central, Stephen Decatur (Md.), James M. Bennett (Md.) and behind that we run right into Seaford (in their South opener). Our early season is really stacked and if we get through that, we may challenge. We'll know (how good Delmar is) early."
Hearn's View of the South: "Everybody I've talked to thought last year the Henlopen South was real balanced even though Woodbridge went undefeated. This year, I see the same thing with a nice, balanced division but a little better. Woodbridge (defending South champion) will be at the top of the pack because it only lost 4 players. Laurel has a big group back and always has a quality program. Seaford is back with us (in the Southern Division after being in the North) and that's always a bad thing. Lake Forest has some great athletes and Smyrna has that kid (Mike) Pennewell who's a threat every time he touches the ball. I don't know where we and Indian River fit into that. I think Woodbridge, Laurel and Seaford will be at the top of the pack and Woodbridge and Laurel will be at the very top. They were both in the hunt last year and they haven't gone anywhere."
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