Beats Howard 34-6
With Third State Title
Publisher, Sussex County Online
Photos (from top): Delmar running back Vince Stewart on 26-yard TD run, Delmar defense drops a Howard runner, Delmar defensive backs Tyler Downes and Vince Stewart break up a pass, and Delmar defensive end Michael Hunt celebrates a sack.
LAUREL -- Neither snow, sleet, rain, cancellations or the vaunted Howard defense could keep the Delmar High School football team from its appointment with history on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2002.
After several days of wondering where they would play their Division II state championship game, the Wildcats of Delmar beat the Wildcats of Howard 34-6 for their third straight state title, their 35th straight win, and their fifth state championship all-time.
With tailback Vince Stewart leading the way with 209 yards rushing and linebacker and tight end Shaun McLain scoring touchdowns on a pass reception and an interception return, Delmar vaulted ahead of Middletown for the most Division II football titles in state history.
The Wildcats also moved into third place for the state's longest winning streak with that 35th consecutive victory and became only the second program in Division II history -- Middletown being the other -- to win three straight Division II state championships.
This one may have been the most special of the three titles because it occurred so close to home, just seven miles up U.S. 13 in Laurel. Originally scheduled for the University of Delaware on Saturday night, Thursday's snowstorm made fields across the state unplayable, which required moving the game to Laurel.
With the remnants of that storm ringing the stadium following a stellar job by Laurel's stadium crew to get the field in playing shape, the Wildcats got the big plays they had been looking for from their offense against a Howard defense that allowed only 4.5 points a game during the regular season and just 6 points in a semifinal victory over Laurel a week ago.
Howard hadn't given up more than 14 points all season, but Delmar had that many points in the first quarter as Stewart ripped off a 26-yard touchdown run with 9:09 left in the period and McLain followed up with a 23-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Jon Ellis with 2:45 to go in the quarter.
Howard would pull within 14-6 moments later on a 17-yard pass from quarterback Mike Schmidt to wide receiver Tom Konrad, but that was as close as the upstate Wildcats would come.
Delmar, for all intents and purposes, finished the game off in the second period when Ellis scored on a 4-yard run with 5:47 left in the half and McLain returned an interception 50 yards just 29 seconds later.
Up 27-6 at that point, the downstate Wildcats thwarted another Howard drive when defensive back Tyler Downes picked off a pass in the end zone with 3:13 left before halftime.
Delmar scored its final touchdown in the fourth quarter when Ellis scored again, this time on a 9-yard run, for a 34-6 advantage with 8:14 to go in the game.
While the offense was clicking on all cylinders, the defense was thwarting drive after drive by Howard. After surrendering the 17-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, the Wildcats shut Howard down with five interceptions.
Schmidt suffered all five interceptions, including two by McLain, and didn't complete a single pass in the second half before leaving with an injury midway through the second quarter. His replacement, Orlando Brown, threw two incomplete passes after Schmidt left.
The big plays on offense came at an opportune time for Delmar, which struggled to score in last week's 9-6 semifinal victory over Hodgson.
Although Delmar didn't eliminate the penalties that cost it so dearly against Hodgson, the 12 penalties for 90 yards against Howard didn't matter as much because the Wildcats were ripping off six plays over 20 yards.
The big plays explained in large part why Delmar held a 313-245 advantage in total yardage despite running only 46 plays to Howard's 64.
Stewart accounted for two-thirds of the Wildcats' yards. On the game's first drive, he broke runs of 32 and 26 yards with the 26-yarder going for a touchdown. On the Wildcats' second drive, he romped 46 yards to set up Delmar's second score. Later in the first half, he ran 41 yards to set up another touchdown. He finished the first half with 153 yards on just 9 carries.
9:09 -- DELMAR (7-0 Delmar)
2:45 -- DELMAR (7-0 Delmar)
0:16.3 -- HOWARD (14-6 Delmar)
5:47 -- DELMAR (21-6 Delmar)
5:18 -- DELMAR (27-6)
5:18 -- DELMAR (34-6)
Total Offense -- Howard 64-245, Delmar 46-313.
First Downs -- Howard 16, Delmar 12.
Rushing -- Howard 36-179, Delmar 38-251.
Passing -- Howard 6-28-5, 66; Delmar 3-8-0, 62.
Fumbles/Lost -- Howard 1/1, Delmar 1/1.
Penalties/Yards -- Howard 8-37, Delmar 12-90.
Howard -- Kareeme Barnes 14-81, Ed Baise 8-49, Mike Schmidt 3-21, Jerome Wilmore 4-(-5), Orlando Brown 4-3, Matt Carre 3-30.
Delmar -- Vince Stewart 18-209, Chip Cuffee 4-14, Trey Jackson 4-30, Jonathan Ellis 9-0, Tyler Downes 1-(-8), Sam Warren 2-6.
Howard -- Mike Schmidt 6-24-5, 66; Orlando Brown 0-2-0; Kareeme Barnes 0-2-0.
Delmar -- Jonathan Ellis 3-8-0, 62.
Howard -- Matt Carre 1-6, Reggie Hopkins 3-33, Tom Konrad 1-17, Andre Watson 1-10.
Delmar -- Shaun McLain 1-23, Michael Hunt 1-24, Scott Price 1-15.
Delmar linebacker/tight end Shaun McLain:
"I had to step it up. It's the best game I've played all year. It's great, it's great. It's the best feeling in the world."
McLain on his interception return for a touchdown:
"When No. 1 (Howard's Matt Carre) went out, I took it. My eyes got real big. I just kept running."
McLain on the Wildcats' fifth state title overall and third in a row:
"Now we can put our mark on history."
Delmar tight end/defensive end Michael Hunt on the third straight state title:
"Three years ago I said we'd be back for a third one and we did it. Defense baby, love it. It feels good to go out three-time champions. It feels real good. It's just good being on top, being a state champion. Doing it three years in a row, the second team in history in Division II, third overall, I mean you can't ask for anything better than that. This is the last time I get to play with my boys. It's been awesome, it's been an awesome four years."
Hunt on passing Middletown for the most Division II state titles:
"It feels good, especially to know I helped with three of them. One game at a time is how we took it. We didn't worry about the records. We knew it was there, we heard it, but we didn't worry about it. As long as we keep winning, it keeps adding on."
Hunt on Delmar's big offensive plays against Howard:
"We worked hard all week. We felt real confident. After last week we didn't do much against those big boys (Hodgson), but we felt real confident against these boys that we could take it to them and we did ... for four quarters."
Delmar head coach Dave Hearn on his team's fast start:
"That was key. The last couple of years we've gotten off to a fast start in this game. That's extremely important in a game like this, with the pressure on, and you put another team's backs to the wall. Our defense is going to give up 14 or 18 points too often."
Hearn on the program's fifth state title:
"Right now all that's important is this one. It's a great, tremendous achievement. That's one of those things you almost have to sit back and look at I think. It's fantastic. I don't know how we could top that."
Hearn on winning three straight state titles:
"We've been in this championship game now, that's five times we've been in it in the last seven or eight years. These three, of course, are fantastic. But what I'd like to talk about is this group of seniors. A lot of them have been in this game now three years in a row right along with me and the coaching staff. They're just fantastic. I told them before the game that I couldn't be more proud of any group I've ever been associated with, of kids, men, anybody. They're just a great group of people."
Hearn on tailback Vince Stewart's 209-yard rushing performance:
"Vince ran real well. He fan a couple of seams in there because there wasn't much. He found some seams and made the big plays early, a couple of big runs. Last week we did not find anything inside (against Hodgson). We had to be able to run inside (this week) because they (Howard) took away the outside very effectively. We didn't get outside with anything that I know of. They took the option away. Those couple of runs inside were extremly important. He had a great game. That was his best game, maybe of the year. He's had some big ones, but he ran consistently and I thought our offensive line probably blocked as well against a great defense as they could block."
Hearn on Howard's defense:
"They've got some great athletes. They don't have any weak spots out there. We were searching. They were much bigger and much stronger up front when we got here than I thought they were when I saw them against Laurel."
Hearn on the condition of Laurel's field after this week's snowstorm:
"Those guys deserve a chunk of that trophy. That's tremendous. I don't know what they got paid, not as much as the University of Delaware would have gotten, but they deserve every ounce of it. They worked all day Friday because I saw them out here. They were out here again yesterday. It was just fantastic. The field I thought was tremendous. You were standing in mud but it was a great field. I didn't see anyone slipping and sliding."
Hearn on Delmar's outstanding job on standout Howard wide receiver Matt Carre:
"I think that's a combination of coverage and some good athletes, but also some pressure. The quarterback didn't have a lot of time to throw. I think they were ready to try to throw the short balls, and you complete some and you don't against pressure."
Hearn on the big offensive plays:
"We've been waiting for about four weeks in a row for that. It's been awhile. We talked about it all week that those if people inside (Delmar linemen) handle those stacks of theirs, and they've got big strong people, then we'd be fine."
Delmar guard Travis Hearn on his third straight state crown:
"It was a great game, both teams, both ways. Three-peat. We've been looking for this since last year. Because it's my senior year, the last time I'm going to play high school football, it's great."
Travis Hearn on playing for the last time for his father, head coach Dave Hearn:
"I love it. I wish him the best of luck next year. It's harder on me, I guess."
Travis Hearn on the offense's performance:
"We played hard and so did they. We deserved it. It could have gone either way on that one. We played a lot better than we did last week. We stepped it up. We had a couple of extra days (because of the postponement) of practice and we stepped it up. We did the best we could."
Vince Stewart on his 209-yard rushing performance:
"The O-line really stepped it up from last week. It was a big change. When you see (tackle) Billy (Owens) and some of the linemen hit their blocks, and all I see is butts, I just cut off the angles and everything. I just got my yardage off of them."
Stewart on winning three straight state titles:
"I never dreamed of this, winning three straight in a row. Everybody, man, we're a family. We've been saying we're going to win three ever since we were young, like the eighth grade. We've been saying, 'We're going to win three, we're going to win three before we leave here', and we finally did it. We finally brought it on home."
Stewart, on why this year's title is more special to him than the first two:
"Because it's my senior year, so I'll go out on top. I've been preaching, 'Three-peat, three-peat, three-peat', and we finally backed it up. I feel good right now because we accomplished what we wanted to accomplish."
Delmar linebacker Zarar Shauket on the third straight state title:
"Hopefully this should show the upstate teams that we should be ranked No. 1, overall. That's great, going out on top."
Shauket on what made this group of seniors so special:
"We're just together all the time. Coach Mac (defensive coordinator Dave McDowell), he clowns with us all the time. We have parties, it's just like a party out on the football field. We have fun."
Shauket on his thoughts after Howard pulled within 14-6 in the first period:
"No pressure. I knew we were going to stand tough. Most of the yardage they got on that drive was penalties anyway. I knew we were going to hang tough and pull it off."
Shauket on what defensive coordinator Dave McDowell has meant to the defense:
"Coach McDowell, oh man, he's been here since we were little young bucks. He's been talking to us. We couldn't do it without him. He takes his time out so we can go over there and talk to him to run over plays and stuff like that. We can't do it without him. He's a great man, a great coach."
Shauket on head coach Dave Hearn:
"Coach Hearn is a great coach. Everything he says, to carry on with life as well as on the football field, he's there. He's there when you need him."
Delmar defensive back Tyler Downes, a transfer from Laurel, on his first state title:
"It's worked out the way I wanted it to, that's for sure. It's like the best feeling the world right now. To come out on top, to play at my actual home field, on top of it. It just proves that everything is going real well right now."
Downes on fitting in with the tight-knit Wildcats:
"I just really worked hard and tried to fit in. It was hard. At first I didn't even know what to do because it was a whole new defense. I grew accustomed to it and just worked really hard and fit right in."
Downes on defensive coordinator Dave McDowell:
"Coach McDowell is the best defensive coach around. He knows everything. I love him to death because he's the best coach I've ever had in my life."
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