High School Football: CR, Smyrna get a big North finale

It’s been a long time since Smyrna High had a genuine, last-contest-of-the-season rivalry game in football.

Since 2015, the Eagles have finished their schedule with Polytech. Before that, it was Cape Henlopen.

Neither one really qualified as a rivalry game for either program.

So the fact that Smyrna has a big game with Caesar Rodney waiting for it on Friday night is actually something different for the Eagles.

Smyrna will host the Riders at 7 p.m. with the Henlopen Conference Northern Division title on the line.

That the North’s first and second-place squads end up squaring off on the last weekend of the regular season seems to be just a bit of serendipity. This year’s Henlopen schedule was rearranged because of the shortened seven-game slate.

But Smyrna coach Mike Judy likes the fact the Eagles are playing for something big at the end of the season.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “If you’re a coach, I think you embrace those moments because you’re going to grow no matter what the outcome is. You can’t get enough of those in your career.

“As a staff and for our kids, it’s always something to remember when it’s a rat race at the end. It’s a beautiful thing.”

On paper, Smyrna (5-0 overall) is the clear favorite against CR (5-1). The Eagles have won six in a row over the Riders since a 43-0 loss to CR in 2013.

Judy, though, is only interested in more recent history.

“This is a CR team that, No. 1, is confident right now,” he said. “And any team that’s confident is dangerous.”

With only four teams making the DIAA Division I state tournament this fall — as well as the fact that several teams will end up playing less than seven games — there’s a lot of programs that will go into the final weekend feeling like they still have a shot at an at-larger berth.

So far, only Blue Hen Flight A champion Middletown has locked up a spot. The CR-Smyrna winner will take another bid.

The rest will end up battling for just two at-large spots.

Eight Division I squads go into the final week of the regular season with two losses or less.

“I’m pumped for this game,” Eagles’ receiver Devin Smith said after Smyrna downed Sussex Tech, 50-7, on Friday night. “I’m watching film tomorrow for CR. I can’t wait.

“They’ve got good players, we’ve got good players. We’ll see who can come out on top.”

Raiders QB growing into role

The thing to remember about Jordan Evans, says Woodbridge High coach Jed Bell, is that Evans was a wide receiver a year ago.

Now the Blue Raider junior is being asked to quarterback a team with state championship aspirations. Evans has helped lead Woodbridge to a 4-0 record so far in the Henlopen South.

He’s done it with limited reps.

Woodbridge’s season got off to a late start due to a pair of cancellations because of positive COVID-19 tests on campus. It meant Evans did not make his debut until the third week of the season as Woodbridge has played two less games than many teams throughout the state.

That coupled with the fact that teams weren’t able to have a normal preseason over the summer and early fall, Bell wasn’t sure what he would get out of Evans. He’s pleased with what he’s seen so far.

“If you think about it, it’s only his fourth game as quarterback,” Bell said after Woodbridge’s 16-0 victory over Laurel Friday night. “He’s a really athletic kid. There’s some growing pains but he’s getting better every single week.”

Even Evans’ mistakes have turned into some positive plays for the Blue Raiders.

He scored a highlight-reel 27-yard touchdown for Woodbridge’s second score of the game against Laurel. He turned what looked to be a sure sack for a 10-yard loss into a touchdown scramble where he made several would-be tacklers miss.

Bell said Evans missed a read for an open wide receiver, but marveled at the ability to maneuver his way out of trouble.

“It could have been a lot easier if he put the ball out to the receiver it was intended to go to,” Bell said with a laugh. “That was a heck of a play, though. It’s nice to have another option like him where you can put the ball in his hands and he’ll make something special happen.”

Remembering McPike

Cape Henlopen’s football team honored former Viking quarterback Jack McPike before its game with Caravel last week.

A senior in the fall of 2009, McPike passed away on Nov. 15 from a brain tumor. He was just 28.

He was too old for the current players to know him but coach J.D. Maull said it was a touching moment.

“Some of the kids knew of him,” said Maull. “Coach (Ken) Hardy talked to the kids about what Jack meant to him and what Jack brought to the football program when he played.”

Cape ended up rallying to beat Caravel, 32-21. Maull couldn’t help but notice that the Vikings trailed by 11 at halftime only to win by 11.

Eleven was the number that McPike wore on his jersey.

Extra points

Sussex Central is now 2-1 against Salesianum since 2011. Maybe it makes a difference that the Golden Knights regularly schedule the Sals in a pre-season scrimmage. … Sallies lost two of its three matchups with Henlopen North teams this fall. … Lake Forest has won seven of the last nine Battle of the Bell rivalry games with Milford. The Spartans have won the last two contests by a total of just four points, though …. Smyrna (43.4) and Division II Howard (40.0) are the only two teams in the state averaging over 40 points per game. … Former Dover High assistant coach Colin Thomas, in his first season as the head coach at Arizona’s Peroria Liberty, won a playoff game, 25-24, on Friday night by running a ‘Philly Special’ on a late two-point conversion.