Henlopen South football preview: Woodbridge looking to continue run

Tyrez Cannon has helped Woodbridge High reach the Division II state finals three times in the last four years. Delaware State News file photos

The Henlopen Southern Division has a long tradition of turning out some of the top small-school football teams in the state.

All six current members of the division have won a DIAA Division II state crown.

That’s a trend the Henlopen South would love to continue, even in the condensed season that starts on Friday night.

Woodbridge High (4-1 South, 11-2 overall) is on the most impressive run in program history.

The Blue Raiders have gone to the Division II state finals in three of the last four years with a pair of titles and an overall record of 43-7.

A year after losing a tough 16-15 decision to Howard in the state title game, second-year head coach Jed Bell returns a big group of experienced players. Three players are back after earning first-team All-South honors: OT/DL-Joshua Benedict (Sr.), RB-Tyrez Cannon (Sr.) and LB-Kenny Newton (Jr.).

Four more players return after being named second-team or honorable mention All-South: DE-Or’mon Sanders (Jr.), LB-Michael Plummer (Sr.), DB-Jaden Bacon (Jr.) and Wyatt Wright (Jr.). Other returning players for Woodbridge include Tyair Cannon (Sr.), Dylan Yocum (Sr.), Derek Cannon (Sr.), Brenton Williams (Sr.), Jordan Evans (Jr.), Ellis Cannon (Jr.), Corey Sanders (Jr.) and Kshawn Cox (So.).

Among the newcomers are Rasheed Stones (Jr.), Noah Matthews (Jr.), Deronn Kane (Sr.), Traci Johnson (Fr.), Ci’Atrick Stones (So.), Seth Smart (Jr.), Colin Hastings (Jr.), Michael Brummell (Sr.) and Aidan Timmons (Sr.).

With the Raiders opening the season by hosting Delmar on Friday, they should have an idea right away where they stand in the South.

“We’re returning a host of versatile kids who grew up fast last year and gained valuable experience,” said Bell, who was named the Henlopen Conference Coach of the Year. “We are hoping to use our experience and high number of returners as a benefit and have a strong season.”

Defending South champion Delmar (5-0 South, 9-3 overall), of course, has a proud tradition of its own. The Wildcats reached the Division II state semifinals last fall after winning the program’s seventh state crown in 2017.

But, with only five returning starters, this year’s Delmar squad is very untested right now.

Defensive back Rajay Allen (11, right) is one of the few returning starters for defending South champion Delmar.

“We have good numbers out overall, but we’re really thin in varsity-level experience,” said coach Dave Hearn. “We need to find new leaders and players who will step up and surprise.”

C/DE-Garrett Wright (Sr.), who was a second-team All-South pick, is the lone returning offensive starter. On defense, DT/OT-Jamar Cuffee (Sr,) made first-team All-South with LB/RB-Trent Kemp (Jr.) named to the second team.

Other returning players include QB/DB-Parker Lucas (Sr.), RB/DB-Rajay Allen (Jr.), OG/DT-Aiden Marly (Jr.), QB/DB-Josh Oakley (Jr.) and RB/DB-Jaylin Warner (Jr.).

Some of the new players that Delmar is counting on are OG/LB-Kody Jones (Sr.), E/LB-Sam Brumbley (Jr.), E/LB-T.J. Gibson (Jr.). OG/LB-Zach Layton (Jr.), OT/DT-Amir Maddox (Jr.), RB/LB-K.C. Ryan (Jr.), RB/DB-Brian Spence (Jr.), OT/LB-Derek Fooks (So.), RB/DB-Darius Hunt (So.) and QB/DB-Gavin Powell (So.).

Lake Forest (3-2 South, 8-3 overall) is coming off its first state tournament appearance since 2015.

S/WR-Nakiem Scott (Sr.) was a first-team All-South defensive back last year with QB/DB-Damien Galindez (Sr.), WR/DB-Jalen Morris (Jr.) and DB/RB–Mike Brown (Sr.) all making second team.

QB Damian Galindez is back after leading Lake Forest to the Division II state tournament last fall.

Linemen Zack Kennedy, Talif Cunningham-Young and Caleb Secrist also return along with FB/LB-Curtis Spencer and TE/LB-Justin Furber.

The Spartans’ top newcomers are LB–Keandre Scott, RB/DB–Kendal Smith, RB/SS–Miles Coates, OL/DL–Traden Harrison, OL/DL–Cody Pant, OL/DL-Ezra Butler, WR/LB–Cordero Smith, FB/LB–Kalif Spencer, RB/LB-Anthony Rivera, RB/DB–Kai Rivera, OL/DL-Bernard Cordivano, OL/LB–Hunter Halcomb, LB/FB–Jamir Marable and OL/DL–Landen Hester.

Rivera, Cordero Smith and Kendal Smith, who was a second-team All-North running back, are all transfers from Caesar Rodney.

Indian River (1-4 South, 2-8 overall), which lost one game by a point and another contest in OT, is hoping for some better luck as it tries for its first winning season since 2013.

FB/LB-Dalton Hall (Jr.) and DL/OL-T.J. Burke (Jr.) were second-team All-South selections last fall. Other returners include OL/DL-Chris Cruz (Sr.), P/K-River Vickers (Sr.), QB-DB-Tyler Bowen (Sr.), WR/DE-Lucas Weber (Sr.), OL/DL-Jack Williamson (Jr.), QB/DB-Hayden Hall (So.), SE/DE-Ashton Stephens (So.), SE/DB-Ryan Sheerer (Jr.), RB/DB-Jalen Holland (Sr.) and SE/LB-Reagan Dunn (Sr.).

Newcomers for IR include RB/LB-Ja’hmir Brumskin (Sr.), FB/LB-Laron Horsey (Jr.), RB/DB-Ben Cordrey (So.), FB/LB-Chance Hocker (So.), RB/DB-Max Curcio (So.), OL/DL-Clifton Toomey (Jr.) and OL/DE-Colton Benton (Jr.)

“We have several key returners and are looking to build off of last year,” said coach Phil Townsend. “We have the best schedule we have had in years and are looking forward to a competitive season.”

Laurel (2-3 South, 4-6 overall) is coming off a season in which it put together a three-game winning streak in mid-year.

The Bulldogs’ roster has 13 seniors, including second-team All-South selections WR/DB-Preston Chambers, DL-Cam Pusey and LB-Anthony Smith, along with junior DB/AP-Javier White.

At Seaford (0-5 South, 1-8 overall), Mark Quillen takes over as head coach after a seven-year stint at Sussex Tech.

“We are excited to start rebuilding the tradition of Seaford football,” he said. “The pandemic has made it extremely difficult but are continuing to improve every day.”

NG/RB-Booker DeShields was a second-team All-South pick with C-Ashton Wyatt, RB/DB-Sihon Evans and LB-Eddie Mann also coming back. QB/S-Malik Smith, SE/LB-Dalton Hignutt and LB-Jyrell Thomas should contribute.