Eagles’ Judy, Blue Raiders’ Manlove win state football Coach of Year awards

Mike Judy

Ed Manlove

DOVER — In large part, winning is what brings in awards.

But Mike Judy says sometimes it takes losing to provide the motivation.

As the Smyrna High football coach accepted his second straight Division I state Coach of the Year award on Monday night, he said he’ll never forget the tough times the Eagles endured earlier in his career.

“I think the years of suffering, heartache and losses. … kids crying and I’m crying … all those losses and all those (things) that people would say are negatives, they led to this moment.” said Judy.

“The kids were ready to take that next step. It started in 2014. It started with them just getting after it and preparing like champions because they were tired of being where they were.”

Judy’s award was just one of many for Henlopen Conference coaches and players as the Delaware Interscholastic Football Coaches Association held its 13th annual banquet at Dover Downs.

Along with the large number of downstate players who received their All-State trophies, Woodbridge High’s Ed Manlove was named the Division II Coach of the Year while Smyrna quarterback Nolan Henderson took home the Maxwell Club’s Jim Henry Award as the top player in the state.

After a season in which Smyrna and Woodbridge both went undefeated, it seemed only fitting that Judy and Manlove should receive the top coaching awards. It marked just the third time that a pair of Henlopen schools swept the Division I and II football state crowns in the same year.

For the 47-year-old Manlove, it was also his second time receiving the award. He also won it in 2013.

In 2016, the Blue Raiders finished 13-0 and captured the program’s first state championship.

“It’s an award for our community, our staff and our school,” said Manlove. “It’s not just one person that does it all. Obviously the players worked hard and our coaching staff, our boosters — everybody — it’s one big organization that makes it all run.

“Back in the summer, when we were meeting as coaches, that (winning the state title) was our goal. Because we knew we had a special team. We knew we could be good. … We got better and better as the season went on.”

Smyrna’s Division I state championship was its second in a row and gave the Eagles a 24-1 record over the last two seasons.

The funny thing at Monday’s banquet was that Judy thought he was up on stage to present the award to this year’s Coach of the Year. The 37-year-old Dover High grad didn’t realize until it was announced that he had won it again.

“It’s not in my nature to assume anything,” said Judy, who was a standout center at Wesley College. “But I was not expecting that at all. I was pleasantly surprised and real, real proud that our team was able to get this award.”

After losing one game in 2015, Judy said the Eagles were determined to go unbeaten this time around.

“We set out with one mission at the beginning of the season,” he said. “It was nothing about a championship or anything. We wanted to wipe that ‘1’ out of our loss column. We wanted more than anything to get that thing out of there and be undefeated.”

For Henderson, the Maxwell Club award was just the latest in a long string of honors. The senior QB was also a first-team All-Stater, the state Offensive Player of the Year and the Gatorade Player of the Year for Delaware.

Henderson finished his career with 89 touchdown passes and almost 8,000 yards passing while completing 442-of-696 throws. On Monday, Henderson accepted all those awards with his college coach — first-year Delaware coach Danny Rocco — sitting in the audlience.

“It’s definitely cool to get recognized for the year and reflect on the year that we had,” said Henderson. “It’s really neat to come together, celebrate what we did and show that all the work paid off.”

Extra points

Salesianum’s 81-year-old Tony Spadaccini received the Ed Brown Award as the state Assistant Coach of the Year. … DIFCA awarded an honorary Coach of the Year award to former Indian River coach Dale Steele for the 1988 season in which the Indians won the Division II state title. Steele passed away last year. … The group also awarded an honorary 100th win to former Archmere coach Jerry Ambrogia, who died in 2016 with 99 career victories. … Wilmington Friends coach Bob Tattersall was honored for his 300th win last fall. He’s been the Quakers’ coach for 49 seasons.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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