Downstaters among top football All-Staters

DOVER — Even played during a pandemic, this was a pretty special football season for Sussex Central High.

On Monday, the DIAA Division I state champion Golden Knights added a little more shine to it by taking home two of the state’s top awards.

Senior linebacker Alton Dennis was named the state Defensive Player of the Year while the Golden Knights’ John Wells was voted the Division I state Coach of the Year as DIFCA selected its All-State football team

Also from the Henlopen Conference, Smyrna junior Elijah Statham was named the Lineman of the Year for the state.

Junior running back Kevin Ignudo of Division II Howard was voted the Offensive Player of the Year with Archmere’s John Bellace being named the Division II Coach of the Year.

All told, 14 Henlopen Conference players were named to the first team.
Sussex Central, which won its second state crown in the last three seasons with a 28-19 win over Middletown on Saturday, finished with six first-team selections on the All-State squad.

Besides Dennis at linebacker, fullback Dion Stephens, running back P.J. Stratton, center Caden Collins, defensive end Jacob Dempsey and defensive back Sean McGhee were all first-team selections.

Dennis, who also started at offensive tackle, was a mobile linebacker despite standing 6-foot-3, 230 pounds. He had 91 tackles (with 6.5 for loss) during the shortened season with an interception and 15-yard return to set up one of the Knights’ touchdowns on Saturday.

With fellow linebacker K’Tai Tilley — a first-team All-Stater last season — dealing with injury this fall, Dennis also stepped up as a leader, serving as the lone team captain.

Wells said even when it looked like the season might not be played because of the coronavirus pandemic, he could always find Dennis in the weight room.

“He didn’t miss any days,” said Wells. “He’s stepped up into a big role.”
“I was working out every day, getting better,” said Dennis. “It was just the motivation to play football every day. I love this sport and just want to continue to keep playing it. I was hoping we’d have a season.”

Both Stephens and Stratton were 1,000-yard rushers who scored 13 TDs apiece this fall in only nine games. Dempsey finished with 76 tackles, with 14 for loss, McGhee had 42 stops, three pass breakups and an interception.

Smyrna, which went 6-0 during the regular season, had four first-team All-State picks. While Statham making first team as a defensive tackle, quarterback Aidan Sanchez, receiver Yamir Knight and kick returner Devin Smith were also honored on the first team.

Among Statham’s 60 total tackles were 10 tackles for loss.

A senior, Sanchez completed 154-of-220 passes (70 percent) for 2,243 yards with 25 touchdown passes against only four interceptions. He also ran for 152 yards and a TD.

Yamir Knight, only a sophomore, pulled in 38 receptions for 605 yards (15.9 avg.) with nine TDs. Smith averaged 17.5 yards on kickoff returns.

After finishing 5-2, Caesar Rodney had two first-team All-Staters in senior defensive tackle Kevin Hudson and junior offensive tackle Mahlon Dyer. Hudson also made second team at offensive guard.

Also from the Henlopen Conference, Dover senior linebacker Qualeak Bumbrey and Milford defensive back Marquis Gillis were first-team All-State picks.

Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or

All-State Football Team
First team

QB-Aidan Sanchez, Smyrna Sr.
FB-Dion Stephens, Sussex Central Sr.

RB-Kevin Ignudo, Howard Jr.
RB-Phillip Stratton, Sussex Central Sr.
WR-Tyair Spencer, Howard Sr.
WR-Ny’Ghee Lolley, Hodgson Sr.
WR-Yamir Knight, Smyrna So.
TE-Elijah Alexander, St. Georges Jr.
C-Caden Collins, Sussex Central Sr.
OG-Isaiah Bolden, St. Georges Sr.
OG-Patrick Methlie, Salesianum Sr.
OT-Jiheir Robinson, Howard Sr.
OT-Mahlon Dyer, Caesar Rodney Jr.


DE-Olatomiwa Durojaiye, Middletown Jr.
DE-Jacob Dempsey, Sussex Central Sr.
DT-Kevin Hudson, Caesar Rodney Sr.
DT-Elijah Statham, Smyrna Jr.

DT-Isaiah Bolden, St. Georges Sr.
LB-Qualeak Bumbrey, Dover Sr.
LB-Michael Brock, Howard Sr.
LB-Alton Dennis, Sussex Central Sr.
LB-Cameren Smith, Concord Sr.
DB-Marquis Gillis, Milford Sr.
DB-Ny’Ghee Lollley, Hodgson Sr.
DB-Rasheen Caulk, Salesianum Sr.
DB-Sean McGee, Sussex Central Sr.


K-Christopher Albero, Archmere So.
P-Daniel Speciale, Appoquinimink Sr.
RET-Devin Smith Jr., Smyrna Sr.

LINEMAN OF THE YEAR: Elijah Statham, Smyrna, Jr.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Alton Dennis, Sussex Central, Sr.
DIVISION I COACH OF THE YEAR: John Wells, Sussex Central
John Bellace, Archmere

Second team

QB-C.J. Henry, Hodgson Sr.
FB-Kieran Udovich, Archmere So.
RB-Jaden Davis, Cape Henlopen Sr.
RB-Devon Green, Delaware Military Jr.
WR-Jermaine Earl, Smyrna Sr.
WR-Zy’Aire Tart, Middletown Jr.
WR-Christian Colmery, St. Mark’s Sr.
TE-Elijah Sessoms, Dover Jr.
C-Kody Harris-Miller, Middletown Jr.
OG-Kevin Hudson, Caesar Rodney Sr.
OG-Lucas Ruppert, Cape Henlopen Jr.
OT-Joshua Benedict, Woodbridge Sr.

OT-Joseph Simmons, Salesianum Jr.


DE-James Yelbert, Salesianum Sr.
DE-David Dunston, William Penn Jr.
DT-Kody Harris-Miller, Middletown Jr.
DT-Brett Kwoka, Salesianum Jr.
DT-Kobe Wallace, Howard Sr.
LB-Donovan Delaney, St. Georges Sr.
LB-Jack Healy, Salesianum Sr.
LB-Erik Larson, Smyrna Sr.
LB-Kevin DiGregorio, Archmere Jr.
DB-Jaden Bacon, Woodbridge Jr.
DB-Tyair Spencer, Howard Sr.
DB-Tyriq Martin, St. Georges Sr.
DB-Conor Udovich, Archmere Jr.


K-Juan Amezcua-Justiniani, Sussex Central Jr.
P-Jalen Morris, Lake Forest Jr.

RET-Tayvione Squarrell, William Penn Jr.

Third team

QB-Christopher Albero, Archmere So.
FB-Kenny Newton, Woodbridge Jr.
RB-Cameron Smith, Concord Sr.
RB-Wayne Knight, Smyrna Jr.
WR-Jalen Morris, Lake Forest Jr.

WR-Le’Mar Wright, St. Georges Sr.
WR-Deontre Cale, Caesar Rodney Sr.
TE-Michael Brock, Howard Sr.
C-Xavier Jaime, Howard Sr.
OG-Wakeel Frazier, Howard Jr.
OG-Davon Lum, Hodgson Jr.
OT-Donovan Mack, St. Georges Jr.
OT-Nick DeLeo, Delaware Military Sr.
OT-Ryan Betins, Cape Henlopen So.


DE-Dwayne Ratcliffe, Smyrna Jr.
DE-Or’Mon Sanders, Woodbridge Jr.

DT-Wakeel Frazier, Howard Jr.
DT-James Kilby, Dover Jr.
DT-Rafael Mejia, Milford Sr.
LB-Wyatt Wright, Woodbridge Jr.

LB-Jaden Wheeler, Middletown So.
LB-Jack Palmer, St. Mark’s Sr.
LB-Conor Ellingsworth, Sussex Tech Sr.
DB-Timothy Hill, Howard Jr.
DB-Devon Wilson, Appoquinomink Jr.
DB-Quadir Nolton, Dover Sr.
DB-Diloren Ahmir Batts, Mt. Pleasant Jr.
DB-Troy Hicks, Smyrna Jr.


K-River Vickers, Indian River Sr.
P-Mason Sauers, Milford Sr.

RET-Kevin Ignudo, Howard Jr.