Football conference play begins Friday night with 3 key games

Polytech head coach Kevin Smith meets with his team during a timeout.

Conference play is here.

And there are a number of teams who can make big statements tonight.

Three key Henlopen Conference Northern Division matchups highlight the slate of high school football games tonight. All begin at 7 p.m. as the season enters its fourth week.

Two-time defending state champion Smyrna hosts Cape Henlopen, Sussex Central travels to Dover and Caesar Rodney hosts Polytech as the Henlopen North teams try to start divisional play on the right foot.

CR-Polytech features two programs off to surprising starts with both teams 2-1. They each have already surpassed last year’s win total (1-9 for both).

The Riders opened the year with back-to-back victories over Appoquinimink and St. Georges before a narrow 19-4 loss last week to William Penn. Polytech dropped a heartbreaker to A.I. du Pont in Week One but followed that up with wins against Indian River and Milford to earn consecutive wins for the first time since September of 2013.

“We’re a couple of plays from being 3-0,” said Polytech coach Kevin Smith. “I think the taste in the kids mouths from seeing how close we were in that first game, they knew we could get over the hump and win some games this year. That feeling really drove them.

“We’ve had tremendous practices since then. Everybody has been on time, everybody has been at film study. Everything is working out so far but we’ve got a big one up next.”

The Dover-Sussex Central game features one team welcoming back its quarterback and another off to an unbeaten start.

Sussex Central, which made the six-team Division I playoff field a year ago, has cruised through its first three games. The Golden Knights hold victories over Hodgson, Queen Anne’s County, Md. and Caravel.

They now get to face a Dover team fresh off its first win of the season. The Senators received a boost last week when starting QB Jordan Magee returned to the lineup after missing the first two weeks with an injury.

Magee, who has a scholarship offer from Temple University, helped the Senators rally past Concord for a 28-27 win.

“We’re glad to have him back,” said Dover High coach Rudy Simonetti last week about Magee. “We’re weaving him back in. He looked pretty good.”

Even more impressive, Dover trailed 21-7 at halftime before taking the lead in the fourth quarter.

“That is what winning programs do consistently,” Simonetti said. “There’s going to be tough times. But I constantly preach to the kids, this is what happens in life. You’ve got to face it and smack it in the mouth.”

The last Henlopen North game on the schedule is expected to feature senior running back Will Knight’s return to Smyrna after missing last week’s game.

Despite Knight’s absence the Eagles downed Irvington, N.J. 30-18. Knight, a former state Offensive Player of the Year, was out with a shoulder injury but Stephen Whaley scored a pair of touchdowns replacing him at running back.

Smyrna has won its last 12 Henlopen North contests. But the last North team to beat the Eagles was Cape Henlopen on No. 7, 2014.

Extra points

• Radio station 105.9-FM will carry the Cape Henlopen at Smyrna game tonight. The Milford-Seaford matchup can be heard on ESPN 930-AM, 102.1-FM and

• The Delaware State News’ Tim Mastro is previewing Sussex County Henlopen Conference games this morning on radio station WGMD 92.7-FM. The weekly segment called the “Henlopen High Football Fix” is hosted by WGMD’s Mike Bradley and begins at 8:20 a.m.

• Woodbridge’s winning streak is up to 16 games, the longest streak in the state. The Blue Raiders host Laurel tonight at 7 p.m.

• Seaford is 2-0 for the first time since the 2013 season.

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