Sussex County Delaware

Delmar Wildcats
The Year
of the 'Cat

Game of the Week ...

Delmar Captures State
Football Crown, 41-34

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Delmar High School, Delaware Division II State Football Champions, 2000

Photos: Delmar players celebrate with the state championship trophy (above) while Delmar quarterback Dustin Johnson follows the block of Demeris Cannon and head coach Dave Hearn is drenched with the water bucket (both below).

CAMDEN -- It was the Year of the 'Cat.

Dave Hearn, Delmar High School Football Coach, Delaware Division II State Football Champions, 2000The Delmar High School football team brought the Delaware Division II state football championship back to Sussex County and the Henlopen Conference with a 41-34 victory over stubborn St. Elizabeth Friday night, Dec. 1, 2000.

Facing the previously unbeaten Vikings at Caesar Rodney, the Wildcats used their explosive offense to claim the program's third state title and its first since a 6-0 overtime win over Laurel in the 1985 state title game. Delmar also won the Division II crown in 1976.

The Wildcats stayed two touchdowns ahead for much of the night but couldn't put St. Elizabeth away until linebacker Lawrence Sinagra jarred the ball loose from Viking running back Andrew Swarter for a fumble recovery by linebacker Vince Stewart at the Delmar 35 with 2:00 remaining in the game.

A big run and a couple of kneel-downs by quarterback Dustin Johnson later, the Wildcats were 11-1 and state champions with 11 straight victories.

Johnson and running back Ian Hudson, as they have all season, led the big play parade.

Johnson rushed a staggering 29 times for an equally staggering 227 yards including touchdowns of 60, 2 and 7 yards. Hudson, meanwhile, totalled 150 yards and three touchdowns including a back-breaking 69-yard scamper in which he broke free from a pile in the middle of the field, headed to the outside, and raced down the sidelines for a 41-27 Delmar lead with 7:40 left in the game.

St. Elizabeth charged right back after Hudson's seemingly devastating run, though, with a 79-yard drive in just 6 plays. Quarterback Joe Durney hit running back Brian Sulecki with passes of 17 and 43 yards to spark the drive and Durney finished it up with a 1-yard TD plunge that pulled the Vikings within 41-34 with 5:59 to go.

Delmar looked like it would blow the Vikings out early as it went ahead 14-0 in the game's first five minutes on Johnson's 60-yard TD run and a 21-yard touchdown burst by Hudson following a fumble recovery on the Viking 31 by linebacker Chris Zidanic.

Dave Hearn, Delmar High School Football Coach, Delaware Division II State Football Champions, 2000St. Elizabeth, however, cut the lead to 14-6 on the kickoff after Hudson's TD with a 72-yard kickoff return by Jeff Fletcher, who led the Vikings with 127 yards rushing.

The Wildcats then mishandled a pitch on their next possession and St. Elizabeth capitalized, turning Swarter's fumble recovery at the Delmar 26 into a 3-yard touchdown run by Sulecki and a two-point conversion pass from Durney to tight end Ryan Stearrett to make it 14-14 with 5:05 left in the first period.

The Vikings then took the lead after another mishandled Wildcat pitch was recovered by Durrell Harris at the St. E 30. Eight plays later, Fletcher crashed into the end zone from two yards out to give St. Elizabeth a 20-14 advantage with 11:22 left in the second quarter.

The lead was short-lived, though, as Delmar stormed right back with a 73-yard drive capped by a 24-yard touchdown run by Hudson. Placekicker Cody Collins' extra point kick gave Delmar the lead for good, 21-20, with 7:28 left before halftime.

The Wildcats added another touchown with 37.1 seconds left in the half on Johnson's 2-yard TD run. Johnson hit tight end Michael Hunt with a 19-yard pass and split end Chris Zidanic with a 13-yarder during the drive that gave Delmar a 28-20 lead going into the locker room.

In the second half, Johnson put the Wildcats up 35-20 with his 7-yard TD run with 1:04 left in the third period, but a couple of possessions later, St. E closed the gap to 35-27 on a 27-yard touchdown run by Swarter, who finished with 76 yards.

For the game, the Wildcats outgained St. Elizabeth in total yards, 469-306 and compiled 23 first downs to the Vikings' 14. Delmar ground out 416 yards rushing to St. E's 227.

Game of the Week Stats ...


First Quarter:

7:49 -- DELMAR (7-0 Delmar)
Dustin Johnson 60 run
Cody Collins Kick

7:16 -- DELMAR (14-0 Delmar)
Ian Hudson 21 run
Cody Collins Kick

7:06 -- ST. ELIZABETH (14-6 Delmar)
Jeff Fletcher 72 kickoff return
Run failed

5:05 -- ST. ELIZABETH (14-14)
Jeff Fletcher 3 run
Ryan Stearrett pass from Joe Durney Good

Second Quarter:

11:22 -- ST. ELIZABETH (20-14 St. Elizabeth)
Jeff Fletcher 2 run
Kick failed

7:28 -- DELMAR (21-20 Delmar)
Ian Hudson 24 run
Cody Collins Kick

:37.1 -- DELMAR (28-20 Delmar)
Dustin Johnson 2 run
Cody Collins Kick

Third Quarter:

1:04 -- DELMAR (35-20 Delmar)
Dustin Johnson 7 run
Cody Collins kick

Fourth Quarter:

10:21 -- ST. ELIZABETH (35-27 Delmar)
Andrew Swarter 27 run
Ryan Purdy kick

7:40 -- DELMAR (41-27 Delmar)
Ian Hudson 69 run
Run failed

5:59 -- ST. ELIZABETH (41-34 Delmar)
Joe Durney 1 run
Ryan Purdy kick


Total Offense -- Delmar 62-469, St. Elizabeth 46-306.

Rushing -- Delmar 52-416, St. Elizabeth 37-227.

Passing -- Delmar 4-10-0, 53; St. Elizabeth 5-9-0, 79.

First Downs -- Delmar 23, St. Elizabeth 14.

Fumbles/Lost -- Delmar 3/2, St. Elizabeth 3/3.

Penalties/Yards -- Delmar 5-50, St. Elizabeth 5-33.


Delmar -- Dustin Johnson 29-227, Ian Hudson 11-150, Sean Hudson 5-40, Raymond Hammond 7-19.

St. Elizabeth -- Jeff Fletcher 19-127, Andrew Swarter 9-76, Brian Sulecki 6-22, Joe Durney 3-2.


Delmar -- Dustin Johnson 4-10-0, 53.

St. Elizabeth -- Joe Durney 5-9-0, 79.


Delmar -- Ian Hudson 2-21, Michael Hunt 1-19, Chris Zidanic 1-13.

St. Elizabeth -- Brian Sulecki 2-60, Chris Barnes 1-11, Jeff Fletcher 1-5, Ryan Stearrett 1-3.

Game of the Week Quotes ...

Delmar senior lineman Lamar Stewart on the state championship:

"It was a big opportunity for us, for the town, our fans and everybody. We got a new school this year, so we wanted to come out and do all that we could do."

Stewart on St. Elizabeth:

"(Jeff) Fletcher was a good ballplayer and they are a good fundamental team, fundamentally sound. I take my hat off to St. Elizabeth. They did the job, but we just came out on top."

Delmar quarterback Dustin Johnson on the title:

"It feels great. The community was thirsty for one and we quenched that thirst tonight. We've been working for it all summer, working hard, in the weight rooms, summer practices, two-a-days, and we finally got our goal."

Johnson on if he's ever carried the ball as many as he did against St. Elizabeth (29 times for 227 yards):

"A couple of times last year, maybe. But this year it was more Ian, so he did his thing. Tonight was my night. I came up big for my team when they needed it. They said the lane might be there for me and it was there all night long so I took it."

Delmar running back Ian Hudson on his last touchdown run of 69 yards:

"I have no idea (what happened). The play was busted and I just bounced and there was nobody there and I ran it in. They were there. They had me stood up but I just got away."

Hudson on whether he thought the Wildcats could win the state title back in training camp:

"Truthfully, I was kind of sketchy because I didn't know if everybody was going to step up. I knew we had a whole lot of good players coming back but I didn't know if we were going to put it together. Some players come in with egos so I didn't know if we were going to mesh, but we did."

Hudson on what was going through his mind as he played cornerback on St. Elizabeth's last drive with a chance to tie the game:

"I was thinking, 'Man, we've got to stop them'. That's what I was yelling, 'We've got to stop them', and we stopped them. Our defense, we had a tough test tonight but we came through. This is what we worked for since August. We deserved it."

Delmar sophomore defensive end and tight end on the half-dozen sophomores who contributed so much to the team this year:

"All year long we've been saying we're going to win a state championship, sophomores state champs, and it's finally here, it's finally here. We've got four or five sophomores out there giving it their all, and it finally came. Since August 17 we've been working. After that first loss (39-6 to Sussex Central), nobody would've thought we'd be here, but we're here, and we're No. 1 in the state. We've got heart. We won it all back in Pee Wee against Sussex Central, so this isn't the first one and it's not going to be the last one. We're going for two more."

Delmar coach Dave Hearn on Dustin Johnson and Ian Hudson:

"Dustin just has a heart as big as a football field, and he proved that tonight. Ian's the same thing, but the whole team, it's just a team effort. If you turn them loose in the open field they've got great talent."

Hearn on St. Elizabeth's last drive with a chance to tie the game:

"Holy mackerel. I aged about 40 years. That Fletcher kid, gosh almighty, the whole bunch, they just come at you like wild people. They don't quit at all. It was a game of intensity for about three or four hours, it seemed like to me."

Hearn on winning the state championship:

"This is the biggest win that I've had, the biggest thrill as a football coach and a player. It's been a long time in high school and college and all that stuff. That's the most fun of a group of people. You could feel the people behind us, just wanting and hoping, but you were afraid to hope too much because they (the Vikings) just kept on coming."

Game of the Week Notes ...

  • Delmar's victory was revenge of sorts for the Wildcats' 20-14 title game loss to St. Elizabeth in 1996. Delmar is now 3-2 in Division II championship games and 8-5 overall in the Division II tournament.

  • The loss was the second tough one in a row in the championship game for St. Elizabeth. The Vikings lost 9-7 to Middletown last year. Besides its win over Delmar in 1996, St. Elizabeth defeated Dickinson 41-20 in the 1994 championship contest. The Vikings are 6-2 in the Division II tourney.

  • The Wildcat defense, after blanking Woodbridge in the first round, bent a lot but came up with the big plays when it needed them. Besides Sinagra's hit that resulted in a fumble recovery by Vince Stewart to seal the win, the Wildcats also got a sack from Ben Watkins and fumble recoveries on punts by Chris Sinagra and Chad Baker.

  • Andrew Swarter and Chris Barnes recovered fumbles for St. Elizabeth.

  • Delmar quarterback Dustin Johnson said after the game that he's had a couple of nights where he's carried the ball more than 20 times but it's unlikely he ever carried 29 times as he did against St. Elizabeth. He said coaches told him the seams would be open on the option and he took advantage.

  • Dustin Johnson and his father Donald Johnson greeted each other on the field amidst all of the championship hoopla. Donald guided the 1976 Wildcats to the school's first state championship.

  • Delmar kicker Cody Collins was a perfect 6-for-6 on extra point attempts.

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