5-0 Central visits Smyrna aiming to give 2-time champs another battle

Sussex Central’s Drew Morris and Smyrna’s Diron Accoo from last year’s Henlopen North game. (Delaware State News file photo)

SMYRNA — A year after a close call, Smyrna High will meet Sussex Central High again.

The Golden Knights provided the biggest threat to Smyrna’s unbeaten record in 2016.

They’ll have another shot to knock off the Eagles tonight as Smyrna hosts Sussex Central tonight at 7 p.m. Chances are, the Henlopen Conference Northern Division title is on the line as well.

This time, though, the roles are reversed. It’s Sussex Central who is trying to keep an unbeaten season alive.

The Golden Knights enter the contest at 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the Henlopen North. Smyrna is the two-time defending state champion but the Eagles carry a 3-2 record into the game, but are also undefeated in North play at 2-0.

Smyrna needed 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to storm back from a 14-0 deficit on Oct. 22 of last season against the Golden Knights.

Smyrna entered that game with its trademark high-powered offense averaging 58.3 points a game, but the Eagles were stiffled an aggressive Sussex Central defensive line. Smyrna did not score at all in the first three quarters and were saved by a touchdown reception by Stephen Whaley with 25 seconds left in the fourth quarter to win it.

That day, Smyrna coach Mike Judy expected a close contest from the Golden Knights.

“We called it, we were trying to tell them before the game that this will be one of the better teams we face,” Judy said at the time. “Coach (John) Wells had those guys ready to play and had a great scheme against us.”

There was also a strong wind that day which meant Smyrna’s passing attack could not get going until the fourth quarter. Smyrna tied it on rushing touchdowns by Will Knight and former quarterback Nolan Henderson.

The wind combined with Central’s defense gave Smyrna all it could handle.

“It was a perfect storm of all those things,” Judy said. “Add a great defense with Sussex Central and then you throw that wind in your face and it’ll make for an interesting offensive game.”

Smyrna’s offense has broken through in recent weeks this year. After three weeks it hadn’t scored more than 30 points in a game but the Eagles put up 54 points in each of their last two contest.

Meanwhile, Sussex Central hasn’t given up more than 17 points in a game this year.

Extra points

• Radio station 105.9-FM will carry the Sussex Central at Smyrna game tonight. The Milford-Woodbridge matchup can be heard on ESPN 930-AM, 102.1-FM and www.espn930.com.

• The Delaware State News’ Tim Mastro is previewing Sussex County Henlopen Conference games this morning on radio station WGMD 92.7-FM. The weekly segment called the “Henlopen High Football Fix” is hosted by WGMD’s Mike Bradley and begins at 8:20 a.m.

• Woodbridge’s winning streak is up to 18 games, the longest streak in the state.

• There are four undefeated teams left, two in Division I and two in Division II. Division I has Sussex Central and Middletown at 5-0 while Woodbridge and A.I. du Pont are the two Division II teams also 5-0.

• Polytech puts its four-game winning streak on the line tonight against Laurel. The Panthers have given up 10 points or less in each of their last three games.

• Four Henlopen Conference teams are celebrating homecoming this weekend — Polytech, Smyrna, Indian River and Milford.

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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