Sussex County Delaware
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Sussex County Football ...

Knights Whip Dover
in Key North Battle
  • Story
  • Scoring
  • Quotes
  • Notes
  • Photo: Sussex Central's Pierre Louis (43) rushed for 142 yards including a game-breaking 56-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

    Sussex Central's Pierre Louis

    Game of the Week Story ...

    Publisher, Sussex County Online

    Photos (from top): SC's Spencer Booth (right) finishes off a sack of Dover quarterback Shelton Beckham, Cleveland Hagans (25) hurdles a Dover defender, and Vance Collins sprints around end.

    Sussex Central's Cleveland HagansDOVER -- In pre-season, where others saw inexperience, the Sussex Central High School football team saw seven returning starters on defense.

    Where others saw the loss of all-state skill players, the Knights saw the potential of a new stable of running backs.

    Where others saw a rebuilding season, down in Georgetown, they set their sights on another Henlopen Conference Northern Division title.

    Now, after a 16-6 win at Dover on Friday, Oct. 24, 2003, others are seeing the 2003 campaign as the Knights see it, as they moved to within one win of their second straight North crown and an automatic Division I state tournament berth.

    "I've got nothing less than an undefeated state championship season," said Central linebacker Kevin VanVorst of his expectations this year.

    Sussex Central's Cleveland HagansThe Knights have a ways to go to reach that goal, but after a nonconference game against Wicomico (Md.) on Oct. 31, they host Caesar Rodney in a likely showdown for the Henlopen North title on Nov. 7.

    A win there, and the Knights will be in the state tournament for the fourth straight year.

    VanVorst keyed the Knights' suffocating defense on Friday night with an interception that led to Central's first touchdown, while running back Pierre Louis keyed a Central ground game that pounded Dover all night long.

    The formula has worked to perfection so far, as Central rose to 4-0 in the North and 7-0 overall. Dover fell to 1-1 in the conference and 3-4 overall.

    The defense held Dover to barely 40 yards for most of four quarters before the Senators ripped off a 46-yard screen pass that led to their only touchdown with 4:23 left in the game.

    Sussex Central's Cleveland HagansThe offense, meanwhile, drove the ball mercilessly at Dover, and when the Senators softened, knocked them out with two big plays -- a 34-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Vance Collins to end Tyler Scott in the first quarter and a 56-yard touchdown run by Lewis in the fourth period.

    Louis fought off a facemask by a Dover defender with a strong stiff arm to get outside and rumble down the sideline to the end zone. He finished with 142 yards rushing and caught a pass for 22 yards.

    In between, Danny Milam booted a 32-yard field goal to account for the Knights' other points.

    Besides Louis, the three other Knights racked up significant yardage on the ground. Cleveland Hagans ran for 40 yards, while quarterback Vance Collins and running back Will James contributed 43 and 42 yards, respectively.

    Collins went 3-for-6 for 71 yards through the air.

    Wells said he was pleased with the team's performance and its 7-0 record, but he sounded a note of caution.

    "We haven't done anything yet," Wells said. "We're not in the playoffs yet. We haven't won the conference yet. Caesar Rodney beat Middletown. CR's a load. They've got some great skill players, a couple of big guys on that line, they're well-coached. It's real nice to see these boys at 7-0, but we haven't done anything yet."

    Scoring ...


    First Quarter:

    4:14 -- SUSSEX CENTRAL (7-0 Central)
    Tyler Scott 35 pass from Vance Collins
    Danny Milam kick

    Second Quarter:

    :03 -- SUSSEX CENTRAL (10-0 Tech)
    Danny Milam 32 field goal

    Fourth Quarter:

    6:11 -- SUSSEX CENTRAL (16-0 Central)
    Pierre Louis 56 run
    Kick failed

    4:23 -- DOVER (16-6 Central)
    Keith White 9 run
    Run failed

    Quotes ...

    Sussex Central head coach John Wells on his team's performance:

    "Besides the penalties, I was real happy with the way Vance (Collins) ran the offense, the way the line blocked, and the way Vance threw the ball. We came in saying we were going to throw the bal 15 times this game to offest the run because we knew they were going to load up on the run. We said we're just going to come out and get some completions and throw the ball, and they were going to have to play us more honestly."

    Wells on how his team has surprised observers who thought this would be a rebuilding year:

    "we thought they were dis-respected by a lot of people, but we kept it under our hat. In pre-season, I didn't tell reporters we were good. I downplayed us. I told our boys if you want respect, you've got to earn it. We felt we had seven guys back on defense and they had all played quite a bit. I said if you have seven guys back on defense and you can't be ranked in the Top 10 or get your respect, go get it, and the boys responded. The boys were a little upset and it gave us some motivation, but we've got some good ballplayers."

    Sussex Central linebacker Kevin VanVorst on the key to Central's defense:

    "We just come out every week and work hard. It's just reading, reading the offense and what they do. We put a lot of time in on the scouting reports every week, and practicing and such."

    VanVorst on the Knights' expectations in 2003:

    "I've got nothing less than an undefeated state championship season. That's all of our goals. We get under-estimated every year. Last year we got under-estimated and we ended up winning the conference when we were picked 7-3 at the best. We're always under-estimated. We've just got to come out and prove ourselves week in and week out."

    Central running Pierre Louis on his 56-yard TD run after escaping a facemask by a Dover defender:

    "I just saw the hand come up to my face so I just used a stiff-arm. That's the oldest move. Everybody doesn't use it but I figured I could have a good chance of using it, so I just used a stiff-arm and turned the speed on at the end. I was fortunate to bounce outside and go all the way for the touchdown. I sort of cramped up about halfway through it. I've got to give a lot of credit for my line. They did a good job blocking for me."

    Louis on the Knights' grind-it-out offense:

    "That's our style of offense. We just like to grind it out and take a lot of time off the clock. It's been working for us since the beginning of the year so I guess we'll continue to do that. It sets up the pass a lot, too."

    VanVorst on the Knights being within one conference win of the Division I state tournament:

    "One conference game, that's an automatic bid to the playoffs. It's (game against Caesar Rodney on Nov. 7) just as big a game as tonight was. If we lost tonight, we'd be in a tough situation. Now we control our own destiny. We're one win away from making a state bid."

    VanVorst on the Knights' effort against Dover:

    "We haven't really played up to our potential. We'll play a half here and let off a half. Tonight I can say we came out and played four quarters of football. You take away that screen pass and they had 40-some yards of offense. The defense did awesome. I've got to give congratulations to the offense, too. When they're driving the ball for 10 minutes at a time it makes it easy on the defense. Our D-line realy stepped it up this week. That's been a little weak spot on our defense and they really picked it up tonight. The score doesn't even show how much we dominated this game. A lot of people say Dover played St. Mark's, they're (St. Mark's) number one in the state. St. Mark's beat Dover 17-0 and we're looking at 16-0 with four minutes to go tonight, so we're right there (with St. Mark's)."

    Notes ...
  • Sussex Central has won 9 straight games in the Henlopen Conference Northern Division. The Knights went 5-0 last year to win the North. They haven't lost a game to a Northern Division opponent since a 34-32 loss at Dover on Oct. 19, 2001.

  • The Knights have now beaten Dover two straight times. Dover had beaten Central twice during the 2001 season, once during the regular season and again in the first round of the state tournament.

  • Central is off to another strong start. Since 1999, the Knights' worst start has been a 5-0 mark in 2001. That streak ended with the loss to Dover.

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