Dover preps for another shot at Golden Knights, first playoff game since 2013

DOVER — Only one team was able to stop the Dover High offense this season.

The Senators have their chance for a rematch tonight.

And this time, there is a berth in the state championship game on the line.

Dover hosts Sussex Central at 7:30 p.m. in the semifinals of the DIAA Division I football state tournament. Dover is seeded second with a 9-1 record while Sussex Central is the third seed and carries a 10-1 record into the contest between the two Henlopen Conference Northern Division rivals.

The two teams met on Sept. 28 — the fourth week of the season. Sussex Central earned a shutout at home with a 21-0 victory.

Dover’s lowest point total aside from that game was 35 points. The Senators have averaged 43.8 points per game — the best mark in the state even with the shutout against Sussex Central.

Sussex Central is looking for its first championship game appearance since 2008. Dover meanwhile has not reached the title game since 2001.

This is the first time Dover has made the playoffs since 2013 when the Senators lost to Salesianum in overtime.

Dover has opened up a new school since then and this will be the first state tournament football game played in the new stadium. Dover received a bye in the six-team Division I field so did not have a game last weekend.

The Senators slumped through four consecutive losing seasons after that 2013 playoff berth. Dover only won 12 games over the last four years entering this season.

“The whole summer we’ve been conditioning and working,” said junior running back Javon Peace. “All of that. It’s showed. This year is different because we actually put in the work. We put in a lot of work and dedication which was the main factor.”

Peace is a big part of Dover’s high-powered offense.

He rushed for more than 100 yards every game except the Sussex Central loss. He has 26 rushing touchdowns in 10 regular season games along with 1,844 yards on 145 carries (12.7 yards per carry.

“He is the most electrifying kid in the state and a threat to score every time he touches the ball,” said Dover coach Rudy Simonetti. “How he goes is how we go. Any given moment he can pop one and I’m not surprised. He’s become a real leader for this football team. When we’re clicking on all cylinders we’re fun to watch.”

Peace did record 49 receiving yards against Sussex Central in Week Four but was held in check on the ground. He carried the ball 11 times and only gained seven yards.

Senior quarterback Jordan Magee provided a bulk of the offense for Dover that day with 12-of-19 passing for 136 yards. But Magee too was stymied on the ground, only rushing for 12 yards.

“We didn’t play very well and we didn’t coach very well,” said Simonetti after that game. “We just got to get back to basics and back to work on some things and we’ll be alright.”

NOTES: The Dover-Sussex Central matchup will be broadcast by Delaware 105.9 FM. … ESPN 930 AM and 102.1 FM will broadcast the Delmar-Woodbridge Division II state semifinal (7:30 p.m.).

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