High School Football
at Sussex Central (5-0, 8-0)
Photos: Sussex Central head coach John Wells and fullback George Davis.
GEORGETOWN -- A versatile offense and an opportunistic defense have brought the Sussex Central High School football team to the brink of the Henlopen Conference Northern Division championship and automatic Division I state tournament berth.
The Golden Knights must, of course, defeat the state's top-ranked team, Caesar Rodney, on Friday, Nov. 12, 1999, to claim those honors.
The Knights are 5-0 in the North and 8-0 overall and face a Caesar Rodney club that comes in at 4-0 and 7-0.
"I feel the pressure is on CR," said Sussex Central head coach John Wells. "They're supposed to be the champs this year. They were the preseason pick and they had all of their kids back from last year's team (which reached the state finals as an at-large qualifier).
"They're ranked No. 1 in the state. They're supposed to beat us. But they're coming into our place and the pressure should be on them."
The Knights are plenty formidable themselves. Ranked 4th in the state, they have outscored their 8 opponents 31.4-9.75 points a game. At one point, they registered 14 straight scoreless quarters, and in the past three games, the defense has scored four touchdowns on interception and fumble returns. For the season, they have three shutouts.
The defense will need to come up big again against Caesar Rodney's big play offense on Friday night. The Riders blew out Cape Henlopen 34-6 on Nov. 5 despite being outgained by the Vikings, who ran 57 plays to the Riders' 39.
"That's (big play potential) the nature of their offense," said Wells of the Riders. "They have a quick strike offense with that counter criss-cross and passing to Jon Berry (wide receiver), and then they spring Robert Young and a gadget play here and there. That's their offense. We want to make them grind it out. That's not typical of their style."
Berry caught a 63-yard touchdown pass against Cape while Young, a week after scoring 5 touchdowns in a win over Polytech, burned the Vikings for a game-opening 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and a fourth quarter 73-yard touchdown romp.
Sussex Central, meanwhile, does ground down its opponents behind fullback George Davis and running back Burless Hall. Then, the Knights will spring halfback Ben Rogers for a big gain or quarterback Blake Hershelmann will run or throw for a big play.
Davis comes off a four-touchdown, 169-yard performance against Sussex Tech in a 48-24 victory.
Hershelmann, meanwhile, has a 240-yard passing game against Polytech under his belt and has hit his favorite target, tight end Jesse Makowski, with touchdown passes of 49, 85 and 82 yards this season.
"Some people have said that we couldn't wait for this game," said Wells. "But from the coaches' and players' standpoint, we didn't overlook anyone (the last couple of weeks). We looked at every game with the same focus and same intensity. The key for us was getting to this point and making this game mean something."
Copyright © 1999 Sussex County Online