High School Football
Cape Henlopen (4-0)
At Cape Henlopen
7:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 13, 2000
Photos: In a game that figures to be won in the trenches, Sussex Central lineman Matt Lawrence (above) and Cape Henlopen lineman Amado Mandujano (below) will be major factors. In the middle is Sussex Central coach John Wells.
LEWES -- The Sussex Central and Cape Henlopen high school football teams have been working toward their showdown for supremacy in Sussex County and the Henlopen Conference Northern Division for two seasons now.
And while Dover and Caesar Rodney will have plenty to say about the Henlopen North title later in the season, the winner of the 7:30 p.m. game between the state's third- and fourth-ranked teams on Friday, Oct. 13, at Cape, will have an early edge on the division title.
Sussex Central, ranked third in the state, defeated Cape 9-0 last year to end the Vikings' two-year reign as Northern Division champions. The Knights eventually lost the crown to Caesar Rodney.
Both teams were younger then, and many of the same players who participated in that 9-0 affair are back for Friday's encounter.
"I said all last year to watch out for Cape this year," said Sussex Central head coach John Wells.
Cape Henlopen head coach Brian Donahue, meanwhile, says the magnitude of this game has resulted from the natural evolution of his program.
"We've never looked at it as a Cape vs. Central thing," said Donahue. "We're always looking for competing and having a winning season and then having a chance to compete for the Henlopen North title ... We're only midway through the season and I think a lot of things are going to happen in the Henlopen North. This just happens to be the first of many big games to come."
The Knights could be without senior running back George Davis, the team's leading rusher. Davis, a 1,000-yard rusher the past two seasons, has missed the past game-and-a-half with a high ankle sprain and is questionable for the Cape game.
The Knights will need Davis' services against a Cape team that has yet to be scored upon this season. The Vikings, in four games, have outscored their opponents 117-0. Sussex Central, meanwhile, has outscored its opponents, 192-44, including its first shutout of the season in a 42-0 win over Milford on Friday, Oct. 6.
"We want him back, but healthy," said Wells of Davis. "As a head coach, I've got to look at the whole season. We've got Cape and then we have Dover. And then Caesar Rodney and Christiana. If we try to bring him back too quick, then he's banged up for the Cape game and he gets hurt early and he's out for that and probably Dover, too. And then you're scrambling. We've just got to take it and play it by ear with the trainer and do what's best for the team and George."
Sussex Central typically grinds opponents down behind a big offensive line led by 6-5, 270-pound tackle Matt Lawrence, 6-2, 265-pound tackle Colby Steele, guards Jake Booth (6-2, 200) and Jack Roach (5-10, 215), and center George Jenkins (5-9, 244), but the Knights have exhibited big-play potential in several games.
Quarterback Blake Hershelman has evolved into one of the state's top quarterbacks and is a threat throwing or running. Wide receiver Andrew Weatherly is a bonafide big-play threat and has scored four touchdowns of more than 40 yards on a kickoff return, a fumble recovery, and two passes. Split end Leroy Mann has also emerged as a scoring threat and tight end Jesse Makowski is capable of big plays.
If Davis can't go, the running chores will will be split up between Yoree Washington, J.J. Ricketts and Teddy Thompson.
"They've got plenty of backs," said Donahue of the Knights. "George Davis didn't play most of the game against Glasgow and when he came out, they still put up most of their points on the board. Certainly against Milford last week without George they put 42 points on the board in a hurry. It's unfortunate that George is hurt and if he doesn't play it's unfortunate, but they still have plenty of skill guys to pick up the slack for them."
Cape is also a grind-it-out team that has shown big-play capabilities.
The Vikings' offensive line is even bigger than Sussex Central's. Tackle Amado Mandujano is the biggest Viking lineman at 6-0, 310 pounds. Guard Alex McClure (6-1, 230), guard Howe Guan (6-0, 220), tackle Eric Sirmons (6-2, 260) and center Keith Mutchler (6-3, 265) round out a line that averages 257 pounds. Sussex Central's line averages 238 pounds.
They also make the Vikings' defense one of the toughest in the state.
"(The defense) is compliments of Brian Donahue and his program," said Wells. "Cape's always had a very tough defense. Traditionally, that's a part of his philosophy."
The Vikings have numerous offensive weapons behind their line.
Running back Tykee Perry has rushed for 385 yards and topped the 100-yard mark three times this season. Halfback Thaddeus Shockley has scored six touchdowns including four on passes from quarterback Joe Cahill. Running back Kyle Mansfield demonstrated his explosiveness with more than 133 yards rushing, including a 49-yard TD gallop, in a 41-0 win over Indian River.
Because the teams are so evenly matched, Wells expects the game to turn on critical plays.
"Both ways, turnovers and penalties could be a key," he said. "The two teams are closely matched, evenly matched, so momentum could be a big key, too. We're going to their place and we have to be really focused. Any time you go there with a live crowd, if they do one or two things right, they could gain a lot of momentum. We have to fight through that momentum. The key to keeping momentum on our side is to keep the home field factor out of it. That would be a big plus for us."
Donahue thinks a big play could decide the outcome, too.
"It could be a trench game but all of a sudden one of the skill guys could break open a big play," said Donahue. "They certainly have plenty of them and we feel like we have guys who are capable of breaking a big play. But yeah, in the trenches, that's going to be a big part of it, offensively and defensively, who's controlling the line of scrimmage?"
For more on the two teams' seasons to date, click on their school names above.
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