for South Title Again
Berth in State Tourney
Photos: From top to bottom, Delmar head coach Dave Hearn, Woodbridge head coach John Parker, Delmar linebacker Lawrence Sinagra, Delmar running back Sean Hudson, and Woodbridge running back Andre Cannon (32) and quarterback Jamil Young (7).
The Delmar and Woodbridge high school football teams have long ended their season with a battle for bragging rights.
But for the second year in a row, a lot more will be on the line in their traditional season-ending game.
The two programs that have dominated the Henlopen Conference Southern Division over the past three seasons will square off once again for the division title and automatic Division II state tournament berth.
The 7:30 p.m. game on Friday, Nov. 16, 2001, will be played at Delmar.
"It's nice when it comes down to the last game," said Delmar head coach Dave Hearn. "It makes it exciting for the fans."
For the past three seasons, Delmar and Woodbridge have been the premier programs in the Henlopen South.
Woodbridge won the championship during an unbeaten regular season in 1999. But last year, Delmar reclaimed the title with a 27-15 triumph over Woodbridge.
The Wildcats then beat Woodbridge 33-0 in the first round of the state tournament en route to the Division II state championship.
This year, Delmar enters the game with a 9-0 record and 20 straight victories going back to last season.
The Wildcats have not just won games, they've devastated their opponents with a dominating defense and an opportunistic offense that scores from anywhere in a wide variety of ways.
The Wildcats have outscored their opponents by an average of 39.2-3.8 points a game. They have been particularly dominant in the second period, when they have outscored opposing teams 137-6.
"Delmar is a very, very good team," said Woodbridge head coach John Parker. "I believe it's amazing what Coach Hearn has done there. You've got to take your hats off to him. They're fast, quick, not necessarily that big, some of them, but boy, they play hard."
The defense has posted four shutouts. It didn't get credit for a shutout in a 43-6 win over Laurel last week, but it didn't give up any points, either -- Laurel's defense scored its only touchdown.
Offensively, the Wildcats dominate teams on the ground, averaging 274 yards a game and 8.34 yards per carry. Tailback Sean Hudson leads the ground attack with 1,287 yards, 22 touchdowns, and an 11.59 yards per carry average. Fullback Maurice Stewart has rushed for 461 yards and scored on a couple of long touchdown runs.
Still, defenses can't overlook Delmar's passing game. Quarterbacks John Webster and Brandon Hudson have combined to complete 55 percent of their passes for 692 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Their favorite receivers have been ends Michael Hunt and Demeris Cannon. Hunt has a 33.11 yard per reception average and four touchdowns while Cannon averages 24.67 yards per catch. He has also scored four TDs.
The defense comes at teams in waves led by linebackers Lawrence Sinagra, Zarar Shauket and Scott Price, linemen Trey Jackson, Michael Hunt and Demeris Cannon, and defensive back Troi Handy.
The Blue Raiders, meanwhile, have rebounded from a near disastrous first half of the season in which they went 2-3 before winning their last four games to give themselves a shot at the crown.
The Raiders must win the game to reach the state tournament while Delmar would probably get in win or lose.
The Raiders stumbled early in the season but as head coach John Parker points out, they were always competitive. Woodbridge lost those three games by a combined 10 points, falling to Sussex Tech 28-27 in double-overtime, 8-6 to Laurel, and 17-10 to unbeaten, playoff-bound Wicomico in Salisbury.
"With a couple of points here and there, we could be 9-1 ourselves," said Parker. "We have to play smart, mistake-free football (against Delmar). I think it's going to be interesting."
Parker says the Raiders' fortunes have improved with the improvement of their young, but huge, offensive line.
They've paved the way for tailback Andre Cannon and quarterback Jamil Young to run wild in the second half of the season.
Cannon has rushed for 1,265 yards this season, while Young has run and passed for more than 1,200 yards. A.J. Neal is the team's leading receiver. Cannon, Young and linebacker James Faulkner lead the defense.
"The offensive line, as far as I'm concerned, will be the difference in the game," said Parker. "Delmar will be in that 4-4 defense and they blitz out of that 4-4 a lot, so you figure six or seven guys will be coming all the time. From an offensive standpoint, we need to grind the clock, shorten the game, and do well on first downs so we get ourselves into manageable second down situations."
Parker is well aware of Delmar's accomplishments this season. He knows the Raiders are big underdogs given Delmar's domination of all nine of its opponents this season.
Still, Parker has told his team to ignore all of that and concentrate on leaving everything on the field. Whether they win or lose Friday night, he says, they can still be proud of giving the Woodbridge program three straight winning seasons for the first time in its history.
"The way I'm approaching it, and hopefully the players, too, is we've got nothing to lose," said Parker. "Let's just go let it all hang out. Let the chips fall where they may, and who knows?"
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