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Photos: Delmar running back Ian Hudson (40) rushed for 152 yards in last weeks' 27-15 win over Woodbridge. Raider running back Chris Horsey also has 21 tackles for losses on defense this season.
DELMAR -- It wouldn't seem like much could change in a week, so Delmar High School's football team would appear to have the upper hand heading into its Delaware Division II State Tournament first round contest with Woodbridge on Friday, Nov. 24, 2000.
But if you believe in second seasons and that the playoffs are a different animal than the regular season, then you can believe, too, that a week can make a lot of difference.
Even though Delmar has home field advantage for the 7:30 p.m. contest and comes off a 27-15 victory over Woodbridge on Friday, Nov. 17, for the Henlopen Conference Southern Division championship, the Wildcats are at a distinct disadvantage in one area -- playoff experience.
Delmar missed the playoffs last season when Woodbridge captured the Henlopen South, so even though the Wildcats have been to the tournament four times in the last five years and last year's tournament berth was Woodbridge's first ever, the Wildcats are at a disadvantage in playoff experience.
Head coach Dave Hearn could only think of three current Wildcats who saw much action during the 1998 playoffs. The Blue Raiders, on the other hand, lost only four seniors from last year's playoff club.
Of those three Delmar players with playoff experience, quarterback Dustin Johnson was a running back in 1998, Lamar Stewart was a sophomore offensive lineman on both the 1997 and 1998 tournament teams, and end Chris Zidanic saw some time with the 1998 team.
"That's a big thing, I think, to keep people in your program, if you want to stay around in the playoffs all the time, like the William Penns and Seafords have always been over the years, in the hunt all the time, you want to keep people in your program who have that playoff experience," said Hearn.
"They've been there and they want to get back (to the playoffs). We've had that for awhile and we've pointed out that to our kids. Woodbridge has a lot of kids back from that (1999) team, almost a full squad of them. They've got a lot of kids who were there last year when they got Middletown, and that's a tough bunch to run into your first time ever being in the playoffs. I'm sure they'd like to get to that next level, too."
The Wildcats enter the game with a 9-1 record and the tournament's No. 1 seed compared to the 8-2 mark that earned Woodbridge the No. 4 seed.
They secured the No. 1 seed with last week's victory, which was fashioned by a big-play offense and a swarming defense that harrassed versatile Blue Raider quarterback Jamil Young all evening.
The Wildcat offense is led by Johnson, who has rushed for 442 yards and 7 touchdowns and completed 46 of 89 passes for 719 yards and 10 touchdowns. Johnson has also averaged 29.0 yards on punt returns including two returned for touchdowns.
Running back Ian Hudson has also been on a tear this season, and especially in the last four games. During that span, he has scored 11 touchdowns. For the season, Hudson has amassed 962 yards rushing on just 77 carries (12.5 average) and caught 10 passes for 185 yards. He has scored 22 touchdowns in all, with 16 on the ground, 4 receiving and 2 on punt returns.
End Michael Hunt is the team's leading receiver with 252 yards and 3 touchdowns on 14 receptions.
The Wildcat defense, so often overshadowed by Delmar's explosive offense, is led by linemen Lamar Stewart and Michael Hunt, linebackers Lawrence Sinagra and Vince Stewart, and defensive back Dustin Johnson. Johnson and Sinagra are the team's leading tacklers.
Despite their offensive woes last Friday, the Blue Raiders still possess dangerous weapons in Young, wide receiver Jeremy Maddox, and running backs Andre Cannon and Chris Horsey.
Young has rushed for 581 yards and 11 touchdowns and completed 80 of 133 passes for 1,508 yards and 3 touchdowns. Maddox, a returning first team all-stater, is Young's favorite target with 50 receptions for 1,014 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Maddox is also a dangerous return threat with 11 kickoff returns for 306 yards (27.8 average) and 15 punt returns for 331 yards (22.1 average). In all, he has totalled more than 1,600 all-purpose yards this season.
Cannon and Horsey have rushed for 569 and 333 yards, respectively, and placekicker Ben Passwaters has put up 53 points, connecting on 7 of 8 field goals and 32 of 38 extra points (three were missed due to bad snaps).
Defensively, Cannon, a defensive back, leads the Raiders with 112 tackles including 13 for losses, 4 sacks, an interception, a blocked punt and a blocked extra point.
Young, a defensive back, is the team's second leading tackler with 82 tackles. He picked off 6 passes this year after intercepting 7 as a sophomore. Horsey has posted 76 tackles including 21 for losses, 8 sacks, 9 quarterback hurries, and has caused 4 fumbles. Noseguard Bo McDowell has registered 7 sacks.
With numbers like that, Woodbridge head coach John Parker doesn't see a need for drastic changes coming off the 27-15 defeat.
"We've just got to tweak it and execute better," said Parker. "This time of year, what are you going to do, pull a monkey out of a hat? Is Delmar going to do anything different? No, I don't think so. They're too good of a coaching staff. I think we're too solid, also. You just try to tweak what you have, try to get a little better with what you're doing already, and let the chips fall where they may."
Photos: Delmar quarterback Dustin Johnson (16) ran a quarterback sneak 52 yards for a TD last week. Delmar lineman Lamar Stewart (55) helped harrass Woodbridge quarterback Jamil Young (7).
Delmar head coach Dave Hearn on the value of having beaten Woodbridge last week:
"We talked about that as a team. I don't really know how to assess it. That's tough. They lost, you look at that as a motivtating factor, a chance to get back. They lost the division title and here's a chance to break our heart in the playoff game. For our guys, it's the same thing. We don't want to allow that to happen. We want to prove that we deserved to win the division last Friday, and we've got places to go, too. I think that's (last week's win) kind of forgotten. Both teams know a little more about each other. We make a few adjustments and whoever executes better wins. I don't think last week affects this week."
Hearn on Woodbridge's edge in playoff experience:
"dustin running back in 1998. lamar a lineman in 1997. chris zidanic in 1998. that's a big thing, i think, is to keep people in your pgoram, if you want to stay around in the playoffs all the time, like the william penns and seaford have alwasy been over the years, in the hunt all the time, you want to keep peopoe in your program who have that playoff experience. they've been therer and they want to get back. we've had that for awhile and we've pointed out that to our kids. woodbridge has a lot of kids back from that team, almost a full squad of them. they've got a lot of kids who were there last year and they got middletown, and that's a tough bunch to run into your first time ever being in the playoffs. i'm sure they'd like to get to that next level, too."
Woodbridge coach John Parker on his players' response to last week's loss:
"They've responded very well. They're working very hard, responding very well, and I expect good things."
Parker on having to play Delmar again:
"I don't think it's an advantage or disadvantage. It's a new season, a second season, if you will, the playoffs, and let's just go play. Whether it's Delmar or Middletown or St. E's, let's go play."
Parker on adjustments for this week's game:
"We've just go to tweak it and execute better. This time of year, what are you going to do, pull a monkey out of a hat? Is Delmar going to do anything different? No, I don't think so. They're too good of a coaching staff. I think we're too solid, also. You just try to tweak what you have, try to get a little better with what you're doing already, and let the chips fall where they may. One, it (major change) doesn't breed confidence in your players and shows maybe a lack of confidence on your part as a coaching staff. You go with what you've got and try to tweak it and get a little bit better and maybe put in a wrinkle, and that's about it."
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