Wins North Crown
1st Title Since 1973
Publisher, Sussex County Online
Photos: Will James (top) scores on a 9-yard run, while Layton Wright fights off blockers to stop a CR runner.
CAMDEN -- The Sussex Central High School football team has experienced unparalleled success the past three seasons, but each year, one accomplishment has always eluded the Golden Knights.
They took care of that hole in the program's resume on Friday night, though, as they pounded Caesar Rodney 28-6 on Nov. 8, 2002, to capture the program's first Henlopen Conference Northern Division championship since 1973.
At 5-0 in the division and 9-0 overall, the Knights also clinched a Division I state tournament berth for the third consecutive year. Central is also just a win over Middletown in their regular season finale on Nov. 22 from completing their first undefeated season since the 1970 squad went 10-0.
"This was one of the goals we set from Day One," said Central head coach John Wells after being doused with the water bucket. "These kids are great kids, they're kids with good character, and you just want to see them do it. We wanted to make history. It was important to the school, the hometown people, and some parents and grandparents who played here."
Caesar Rodney, which handed Central its first losses in both the 1999 and 2000 seasons and prevented the Knights from winning the North those years, fell to 4-4 overall and out of contention for the North crown or a state tournament berth.
The Knights led Caesar Rodney 7-0 at halftime before a flurry of big plays boosted the advantage to 28-0 in the middle of the third quarter.
The first two were put up by senior fullback Jamil Young, who gave the Knights some breathing room after a 7-0 first half with a 46-yard run with 10:45 left in the third quarter.
A few minutes later, Young got loose again, this time for 30 yards and a 21-0 lead with 7:11 left in the period. He finished with 159 yards rushing on 15 carries.
Defensive back Will "Spitter" James then snuffed the Riders out with a a 75-yard interception return for a touchdown for a 28-0 Central lead with 4:59 to go in the quarter.
James had given the Knights a 7-0 lead in the first period on a 9-yard TD run.
The Riders wouldn't score against the Central defense until the Knights fumbled a punt at their own 6-yard-line late in the game.
Besides James' interception, leading the defensive charge was defensive end Layton Wright. Wright bottled up the Riders by causing a fumble and recording two tackles for losses. Fellow defensive end Spencer Booth also had two tackles for losses.
Senior Sussex Central fullback Jamil Young on the Henlopen North title:
"This is the best, the best feeling ever
Young on the Knights' goals for the rest of the season:
"This is so big that we're thinking state title. But we've got to get there first. We've got to go into this one game at a time. We're just looking forward to Middletown now and getting the first seed (in the state tournament)."
Young on stepping up to the Henlopen North this season:
"I took a lot of criticism when I transferred (from Woodbridge). People said the North was too big for me, that I wasn't big enough. But I knew I could play with anybody."
Sussex Central head coach John Wells on defensive end Layton Wright:
"He's known throughout the state. He's being highly recruited by a couple of junior colleges and will probably end up going to one of them."
Wells on running back / defensive back Will "Spitter" James:
"Will James is an unsung hero. With seniors like Jamil Young and Andrew Weatherly, he has to play behind the scenes, but we couldn't get here without those kinds of guys."
SC running back / defensive back Will James on his 75-yard interception return for a touchdown:
"As soon as I saw the ball was tipped, my eyes opened as big as oranges."
James, also a running back, on his 58 yards rushing on just 5 carries:
"I just follow my blocks. My team does everything for me. I already know what I can do. I just have to be ready when coach calls my number."
"James on the Henlopen North title:
"This is for the community, the fans, everybody who follows us. It's not been done since 1973."
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