Experienced Ravens seek first tourney berth since 2015

Sussex Tech quarterback Ricky Kane. Delaware State News file photo

GEORGETOWN — A year ago, Sussex Tech High registered its first winning season since 2015.

But a 6-4 record wasn’t quite enough to clinch a spot in the DIAA Division I state playoff bracket.

The Ravens ended the season on a four-game win streak, putting up 40 or more points in each of those games against Henlopen North opponents.

Led by a group of 22 seniors, the Ravens hope to take another step forward by grabbing their first playoff berth since the program’s 8-2 season in ’15.

“We have a great group,” said coach Mark Quillin. “Our senior leadership has been fantastic and most of our backfield and secondary have come back from last year. This summer has been a great summer for us, we’ve averaged 42 kids a night in our weight room.”

The Ravens will open the season with three consecutive road games at Northern High in Maryland today at 7 p.m.; Coolidge in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 13; and at William Penn on Sept. 21.

“We’re looking forward to competing in the Henlopen Conference — it’s a great conference for football,” said Quillin.

“Caesar Rodney’s going to be tough, they’re well-coached, (Sussex) Central’s going to be tough, Smyrna’s going to be tough, there’s no off week in the Henlopen. So, we’re hoping to be competitive and stay healthy — that’s the biggest thing, we want to stay healthy.”

After having difficulty finding a 10th game, the Ravens elected to play six away games this year, including the two out-of-state games to kick off the season.

Suffering a knee injury in Week 1 of last year, quarterback Ricky Kane was sidelined for the remainder of the season. But the senior is back under center and is excited for the opportunity to lead the offense again.

“I feel like this team has a chip on its shoulder,” Kane said during a preseason practice in mid-August. “In the rankings, they have us with a losing record and far back in the conference, so I feel like we should just take it one game at a time and hopefully we can go to the state championship. That’s always the goal.”

“He was very inspirational,” said Quillin. “You can tell that it really hurts a kid who’s been out like that. He was very supportive of everyone. He was really a leader off the field having to sit out. He did a great job.”

While linemen such as Will Argo, Jamie Schirmer, Ian Williams and Ethan Ward have been lost as part of last year’s group of 10 graduating seniors, the majority of Quillin’s backfield and secondary is made up of returning seniors.

“We lost some big, strong, athletic linemen,” said Quillin. “We’re replacing them with kind of a smaller group, but they’re hard-working, offensively and defensively.”

Returning seniors Jalen Snead, Andrell Fulton, K.J. Custis and Dakarai Beasley and junior Conor Ellingsworth lead the way out of the crowded but talented backfield.

Seniors Ja’Shaun Johnson, Skylar Johnson, Chase Snyder and Jordan Harper are listed on the roster at split end and will likely contribute as key weapons for Kane in the passing game.

Defensively, Tech failed to register a shutout last season but kept opponents to 13 or fewer points in six games.

During the four-game win streak to end the season, the Ravens’ defense surrendered just 32 total points (8.0 per game) against Caesar Rodney, Smyrna, Polytech and Cape Henlopen.

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