Delmar freshman QB following in family’s footsteps

Dante Trader entered the Division II state football tournament with just one half of varsity football as a quarterback under his belt.

But what Trader lacked in experience, he made up for in genetics.

Trader is continuing the family tradition of playoff football at Delmar High. The freshman quarterback will have another chance to shine tonight as the eighth-seeded Wildcats play at second seed A.I. du Pont tonight at 7 p.m. in the semifinals as the Division II state football tournament.

Trader started the season as Delmar’s third-string quarterback. But injuries turned him into the starter in the second half of the season finale against Woodbridge. The freshman helped engineer a game-winning drive to give the Wildcats a victory to clinch the Henlopen South title and the automatic bid to the state tournament.

He followed that up by pacing Delmar’s option-attack to a 34-13 win over top seed Delaware Military Academy in the first round last weekend.

Trader is the grandson of Donald Johnson. Who famously was a three-sport athlete in the 1970s and helped lead Delmar to a football state championship in 1976.

His father is Dante Trader Sr. Trader Sr. was also a quarterback for Delmar and played in the state title game in 1995 and 1996. He is now the wide receivers coach at Salisbury University.

Trader Jr.’s uncle is Dustin Johnson, the quarterback for Delmar’s 2000 state champion team.

Then there’s his cousins. Kavon Trader is the most recent Delmar standout football player who last played in 2015 while K.J. Trader was also a quarterback for Delmar before being drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 2013.

“There’s a lot of us,” laughed Trader Jr.

Delmar coach Dave Hearn was basketball teammates with Donald Johnson in the 1970s. He then coached Dante Trader Sr. and Dustin Johnson.

So while Hearn knows better than almost anyone about the family’s storied history, he still was impressed by the performance Trader Jr. delivered on the road in the first round.

Trader Jr. scored one touchdown and had three perfectly timed pitches on option plays to Te’Shawn Dennard which resulted in touchdowns.

“I didn’t really know what to expect,” Hearn said. “He made all the plays. He’s practiced all the plays all year but he never did it in a game situation. He was able to handle the pressure and everything that was going on very well.”

Trader Jr. announced his presence in a big way in the Woodbridge game.

The only way Delmar would have made the playoffs was by winning the conference. He was a perfect 6-for-6 in the second half.

Trader Jr. has started the whole season on the defensive side of the ball in the Delmar secondary. He said that experience helped him when he had to take over the offense.

“I was calm because that’s how I played when I was on defense,” Trader Jr. said. “You can’t get more excited than you already are. If you stay calm, you won’t get nervous, that’s how I think about it. Stay calm, stay humble and do my job.”

Trader Jr. also showed off those defensive skills last Friday. He picked off a pair of passes as the Delmar defense forced four DMA interceptions.

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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