Gold quarterbacks passing up baseball for final football game

Smyrna quarterback Nolan Henderson hands off to Dover’s John Castro at Sunday’s Blue-Gold All-Star Media Day at the University of Delaware. (Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

NEWARK — There’s no shortage of quarterbacks in the senior all-star game for the Gold team.

And the three from the Henlopen Conference all have something in common that has nothing to do with football — they all are All-State baseball players.

Smyrna High’s Nolan Henderson, Delmar High’s Jimmy Adkins and Laurel High’s Perez Nichols each chose to compete in the senior all-star football game instead of the baseball all-star game. The 62nd annual Blue-Gold football contest is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday at Delaware Stadium in Newark.

The baseball game is set for tonight at 6 at Wilmington’s Frawley Stadium. State rules dictate that a player can only play in one all-star game per season.

Adkins and Nichols are both playing baseball in college while Henderson will be on the University of Delaware football team next year. Adkins will play shortstop and pitch for Delaware State and Nichols is headed on a full-ride scholarship to Broward College in Florida.

Adkins and Nichols have one last chance Saturday to play football before their athletic careers become solely baseball.

“This is my last time playing football so I figured I might as well take this chance,” Adkins said during Blue-Gold Media Day Sunday in Newark. “This is my last chance to play football so I’ll do all I can with it. I’m looking forward to getting in there. Once I get my time, I just got to show what I can do.”

“Football was always exciting to me,” Nichols said. “So it’s nice to be here with a great group of guys and have fun.”

Gold quarterback Jimmy Atkins of Delmar. He will play baseball for Delaware State in the fall. (Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

“It’s an honor to be here,” he added “Only a select few are picked for it. You have to be good in school and in your community so to be recognized is an honor.”

For Henderson, giving up the baseball all-star game wasn’t a tough decision. The week surrounding the Blue-Gold football game is what swayed him.

The football game is presented by the Delaware Foundation Reaching Citizens with intellectual disabilities and since 1974 has paired players with a “buddy” between the ages of 4 and 18 with an intellectual disability.

“All along I knew I wanted to play in this game,” Henderson said. “I heard how fun this week is with the other stuff. It was a pretty easy decision. All the events we do, hanging out with our buddies, it’s real cool. It’s one of the best weeks of your life people say.”

It also gives Henderson one more week around his high school coach Mike Judy. Together the pair has won back-to-back Division I state championships and saw Henderson win the state’s Offensive Player of the Year award this season.

Smyrna has a strong contingent on the roster as well. The Eagles also have offensive lineman Jerren Carter, linebacker Josh Hutchinson, defensive lineman Jamier Smith and defensive back Jake Soroko, a late addition, representing the Gold.

Judy is the head coach of the Gold team for the first time in his coaching career.

“I wouldn’t want to coach this game without Nolan,” Judy said. “He’s such a joy to be around. I’m gracious to have him here and gracious the University of Delaware is letting him play.”

Of course with the depth at quarterback, it provides a challenge trying to get all of them equal playing time.

But that’s a challenge Judy is looking forward to.

“If there’s anything we can do, we can be very creative,” Judy said. “All three of those guys are super flexible athletes. We’re going to find a way for all those guys to showcase what they can do.”

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