Expectations in 2000
Photos: SC head coach John Wells (top), quarterback Blake Hershelman (middle), and running back George Davis (bottom)
The Sussex Central High School football team comes off one of its best seasons in its recent history with high hopes for a Henlopen Conference Northern Division championship in 2000.
The Golden Knights came within a game of that title in 1999 with a 48-0 loss to North champ Caesar Rodney standing in the way. The Knights finished 5-1 record in the division and 8-2 overall, leaving them them just shy of the Division I state tournament.
The Knights return all but three players from last year's club; thus, the hopes for the school's first North crown since sharing the title with Caesar Rodney in 1973. Sussex Central won the championship outright in 1970.
Lost are standout running backs Burless Hall and Ben Rogers, but returning are Blake Hershelman, a three-year starter at quarterback, and George Davis, a senior fullback who gained .
They'll play behind a deep and experienced offensive line that includes returning second team all-staters Jake Booth and Matt Lawrence and honorable mention all-state tight end Jesse Makowski. First team all-state defensive lineman Jack Roach is also back and plays guard on offense.
Fifth-year head coach John Wells believes the confidence built up from last season has carried over to this season.
"Now they know they can play with some of the bigger schools and be competitive," said Wells. "But they're also pretty mature. If they had come in overconfident and thinking about what they did last year, it could hurt them. Last year is over. None of those games carry over. Last season might be a nice building block, but we can't live in the past."
Following is a detailed look at the 2000 Sussex Central High School football team:
Head Coach: John Wells, 5th season
Career Record: 25-15
1999 Record: 5-1 North, 8-2 Overall
Key Returning Players:
Key Players Lost:
Strengths: Head coach John Wells sees his team's experience and leadership as its main strengths. Last year the Knights had only three seniors, but this year they have 10 returning senior starters with four more returning junior starters with them. The offensive line should make up for the loss of standout running backs Burless Hall and Ben Rogers. "We have a nice line with good size, good feet," said Wells. "They're smart, intelligent. We can hold our own up front with most teams." Senior fullback George Davis figures to be a potent force offensively. Davis had several big games last season, including a four-touchdown, 169-yard performance in a 48-24 victory over Sussex Tech. Quarterback Blake Hershelman returns for his senior season -- his third as a starter. He threw for 240 yards and three touchdowns in a 52-7 victory over Polytech. "Blake is throwing the ball real well with a lot of confidence," said Wells. "He has improved his footwork and mechanics, plus he's a running threat. He's very familiar with the offense."
Weaknesses: Wells said the Knights must improve their kicking game, especially with a tough schedule in the tough Henlopen North. "Expectations can bring some added pressure, too, but these guys can't look at that,' said Wells. "They just have to take one game at a time."
Wells on the Henlopen North: "The Northern Division, just like us, most teams in the North did not lose a whole lot. Dover lost a couple of key players but have a lot of skill players back. Caesar Rodney has one of the best lines, if not the best line, that Jon Coveleski has had since he's been there. Plus, he has a couple of transers to carry the rock for him. I said last year to watch out for Cape. (Cape Coach Brian) Donahue always has pretty a solid defense on the field. I think North is up for grabs. Sussex Tech has to be better. The North has to be better. Between CR, Dover, Cape and us, those four teams, they're as competitive as any teams in the state. The North will be brutal."
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