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Indian River (2-2, 1-0) at
Delmar (4-1, 1-0)

At Delmar (Homecoming)
Saturday, Oct. 14, 2000, 1:30 p.m.

Photos: Delmar quarterback Dustin Johnson (top) and Indian River running back Billy Hall (below).

DELMAR -- For all of the Delmar High School football team's glory in the late 1990's, it still has a score to settle with one school -- Indian River.

In each of the past two seasons, the Indians have shocked the Wildcats. Last year, a 15-12 loss at IR ended Delmar's hopes for a fifth consecutive Henlopen Conference Southern Division title.

Delmar quarterback Dustin JohnsonAnd so we come to the Saturday, Oct. 14 grudge match, which promises to be one of the key games in this Henlopen South season.

"There are a lot of things going for Delmar," said Indian River head coach Jim Bunting. "You've got their homecoming (in addition to the revenge factor). It will be a big one."

Delmar head coach Dave Hearn always remembers close games with the Indians, going back to his playing days at Delmar in the 1970s.

"Both of those losses (to IR the last two years) have hurt us," said Hearn. "Two years ago they gave themselves a chance to win the division title and we had to hope for somebody to help us down the stretch. Last year it hurt us again because it kept us from having a shot at being involved in the dogfight at the end with Woodbridge and Laurel trying to win the title."

Under Bunting, the Indians are a better team than a year ago. Bunting has returned to the helm after a 20-year absence, and although they've lost twice, the losses have been to unbeaten Sussex Central and Cape Henlopen, the third- and fourth-ranked teams in the state, respectively. They come off a 30-12 upset of perennial South power Lake Forest on Friday, Oct. 6.

The Indians lost to Sussex Central 38-12 in their season-opener, while Delmar lost to Central 39-6 in its opener.

Both teams rely on big plays, Delmar with quarterback Dustin Johnson, running back Ian Hudson and receiver Michael Hunt, and Indian River with running backs Billy Hall and Keshawn Gibbs and wide receiver Torrez Spence.

Indian River running back Billy Hall"The game I see here with Lake Forest they connected on several big passes, so they may be similar to us in that they're a big play team," said Hearn. "They look like a team that wants to control the ball with their offense, the way they line up in a lot of tight formations and power formations. So they're trying to control the ball, but the quarterback had a couple nice throws to his split end, so they're capable of the big play. We'll have to avoid that."

Johnson and Hudson have helped the Wildcats score 176 points in their last four games, including 53 in a 53-3 victory over Seaford in their Henlopen South opener last week.

Hudson has scored on six plays longer than 30 yards including a 48-yard punt return for a touchdown in the win over Seaford. Johnson is one of the conference's most dangerous threats, either through the air or on the ground. He has scored on four touchdown runs and thrown five touchdown passes including three to his favorite receiver, Michael Hunt.

"We've improved four straight games," said Hearn. "We played, I thought, poorly our first game out. We really did not play the way we're capable of against Sussex Central, plus they're outstanding. So you add those two up and you just get slaughtered and that's what hapened to us. We've played better each week since then, both offensively and defensively as a squad."

The Indians, meanwhile, come off an upset of Lake Forest keyed by Hall and Spence.

Hall returned a kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown and rushed for 98 yards in his best performance to date, while Spence hauled in 5 passes for 128 yards including a 56-yard TD on a pass off a fake punt by punter John Meiklejohn. Gibbs and Meiklejohn have both scored two touchdowns this season.

"What do we have to do?," said Bunting. "We've got to play offense, get our completions, get our running game going. Defensively there are some things Jimmy Leyh (defensive coordinator) feels he has to do and he's got the personnel. It's not like we don't have something to put in there. We've just simply got to continue to play football."

Bunting promises a new wrinkle for Delmar, a la the fake punt pass for a touchdown from punter John Meiklejohn to Torrez Spence in the win over Lake Forest.

"We're going to put a wrinkle in," said Bunting. "Every team, we're going to put in a wrinkle. I want Dave Hearn to have to work just as hard as I have to (for Delmar).

For more on the two teams' seasons to date, click on their school names above.

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