Blue Raiders roll past Wilmington Friends 33-9, give Manlove sweet sendoff with second Division II title in three years

Blue Raiders coach Ed Manlove celebrates with his players. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

NEWARK — Ed Manlove will ride off into the sunset drenched in Gatorade and holding a trophy.

Woodbridge High won its second DIAA Division II football state championship in the last three years, defeating Wilmington Friends, 33-9, in the finals on Saturday night at Delaware Stadium.

Gabe Wescott and Tahjon Hammond each returned an interception over 70 yards for a touchdown to pace the Blue Raiders, who sent their 49-year-old coach into retirement as a champion.

“He’s a great coach and a great guy,” Wescott said. “We couldn’t have sent him out in a better way. He does a phenomenal job. We’re glad to do this for him.”

Manlove has been the coach at Woodbridge since 2009. He had previous stops at Laurel and as an assistant at Middletown.

“I can relax now,” Manlove said. “I’m ready to go. It’s going to be a nice retirement. It’s kind of like the way you draw it up in your head, the way you want it to end.”

Woodbridge players celebrate with the Division II championship trophy.

Richard Massey led the Woodbridge offense with 118 yards on 16 carries. He gave the Blue Raiders the lead for good just 12 seconds into the game on a 51-yard rushing touchdown on the first play from scrimmage.

Hammond and quarterback Troy Haynes each added a rushing touchdown of their own for the Blue Raiders. Jamon Kane chipped in 50 rushing yards on 12 carries.

“Letting Coach Manlove retire with a championship is something special to my heart,” Hammond said. “He’s been here forever, he had to go home with another one.”

Woodbridge’s La-Tyron Stones tackles Wilmington Friends’ Peyton McNeill.

Woodbridge’s win, coupled with Sussex Central’s first Division I championship earlier in the day, marked the first time both football state titles were won by Sussex County teams in the same year. It was the third season in a row and fifth all-time that both champions were from the Henlopen Conference.

“This is a big, big thing for schools down south,” Hammond said. “We love it.”

Hammond’s 71-yard interception return doubled the Woodbridge advantage to 14-0 with 2:54 left in the first quarter.

The Blue Raiders struck again right before halftime.

This time it was Haynes scrambling to avoid pressure. He found some daylight on the outside and was able to squeeze into the end zone just inside the pylon before falling out of bounds with 11 seconds to go in the half.

Woodbridge’s Jamon Kane rushes against Wilmington Friends during the Division II championship game at Delaware Stadium. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

Haynes has been the starting quarterback for Woodbridge since the fourth game of his freshman year in 2015. His debut coincidentally came in the second half of the third game of that season at Wilmington Friends.

Haynes finished with 15 yards rushing on two carries and 30 yards passing on three completions.

“Coach Manlove basically took me under my wing since my first-ever game playing against Friends,” Haynes said. “He’s helped me in the classroom, he’s looked out for me as far as college coaches and he’s contributed majorly to my success over the last four years.”

The Woodbridge defense allowed 14 points or less for the ninth-straight game.

“To come out on top senior year in your last game, not many guys are able to do that,” said senior linebacker Brock Keeler. “We’re one of those guys. It’s just a great feeling. I really can’t explain it. It’s just a blessing and I’m so thankful.”

Woodbridge’s Dylan Yocum reacts to a Wilmington Friends onside kick on the opening play of the game as Wilmington Friends’ Peyton McNeill looks to recover.

“We’ve been playing since we were seven in Pop Warner together,” Wescott said. “I’m going to miss these guys.”

Woodbridge avenged a 24-21 Week Three loss to the same Quakers. The Raiders are 6-4 against Friends since the two programs starting playing in 2011, including a pair of victories in state title games.

The Blue Raiders turned the ball over four times in this year’s first matchup. They didn’t turn it over at all on Saturday.

“We didn’t think we played that well the first time we played them,” Manlove said. “We went out, got after it and made the plays. We got it done. They did a great job of executing and I couldn’t be more proud of the effort.”

Extra points

It was the 18th all-time Division II championship for a Henlopen Conference school. … The first Henlopen Conference sweep came in 1988 when Dover won Division I and Indian River won Division II. The others were Caesar Rodney (Division I) and Milford (Division II) in 2008, Smyrna (Division I) and Woodbridge (Division II) in 2016, Smyrna (Division I) and Delmar (Division II) in 2017.

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