Smyrna still searching for 10th football game

 

SMYRNA — Mike Judy knows all about the troubles of trying to fill out a football schedule.

When he played at Wesley College, the Wolverines were a really good independent program.

So that meant Wesley had to go as far away as Wisconsin and Florida to find regular-season games.

“That’s part of the reason I’m a well-travelled man,” said Judy.

Now that he’s the head coach at Smyrna High — and facing his own scheduling problems — Judy has an even better appreciation of how tough it can be.

Smyrna football coach Mike Judy

Just over a month before the start of preseason camp, the Eagles still have only nine regular-season games in what they hope will be a 10-game schedule.

The fact that Smyrna owns a 22-game winning streak and has won back-to-back Division I state titles doesn’t exactly have opponents beating down the door to play the Eagles.

The reality, too, is that Delaware has only 17 Division I schools: the Henlopen North, Blue Hen Flight A and Salesianum. Besides its six Henlopen North dates, Smyrna has nonconference games with Middletown, Sallies and newcomer Franklin, Md.

The Eagles’ open date is the third weekend of the season, Sept. 22-23.

“I say to my players, the only thing you’re guaranteed is, ‘Hey, if you stay healthy, you’re going to get 10 games,’” said Judy. “That’s like the only guarantee. And I’d hate to have scheduling be an issue.”

Judy admits that, early in the off-season, there was a Division II program in-state that he could have scheduled. But, at the time, he was trying to put together an all-Division I slate.

When he checked back with that school in February or March, its schedule was already full.

Now the question is, how far are the Eagles willing to go to find a 10th game?

At some point, cost would become an issue. Judy said, given the state’s budget crunch, he wouldn’t feel comfortable asking the district for any extra funds.

There is still the possibility of fund-raising to get the Eagles to a game that’s especially far away.

“We had to kind of set limits,” said Judy. “Basically, we’ll play anybody in New Jersey, anybody in southeast or central Pa. and then over into Maryland.”

Judy said he also looked at Virginia but every school’s schedule was already locked down.

The lack of a 10th game won’t necessarily hurt Smyrna’s potential seeding by the DIAA state tournament point system. Each team’s point total is divided by the number of games it plays.

But, even though its’ getting late, Judy said he’s going to keep trying to find a 10th game for as long as he can.

“I want to have a good experience for the kids — whether it’s in a winning effort or a losing effort,” he said. “If there was a national powerhouse team we had to play to get a 10th game, I think it’d be easy for us to say, ‘We’re playing you.’”

Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or walter@newszap.com.

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