Reed helps Panthers get off to a fast start

 

WOODSIDE — When Tucker Reed saw the seam open up, he took off.

One broken tackle later, the Polytech High senior was sprinting down the field.

The only thing in front of Reed on the kickoff return was the end zone.

“It’s really exciting — exhilarating — just knowing that you’re running from five or six people chasing you,” he said.

Nobody caught Reed, either. When he scored the touchdown 89 yards later on the game’s opening kickoff, he’d given the Panthers a quick lead in their game at Indian River last Friday night.

When it was over, Polytech had posted a decisive 39-21 victory over the Indians.

While the Panthers are 1-1, that’s no small feat for a program that has struggled to win any games lately.

Polytech wide receiver and safety Tucker Reed has scored five TDs in the Panthers’ first two games. Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

Polytech, which hosts Milford (1-1) today at 7 p.m., had won just one of its last 22 games before the victory.

Coach Kevin Smith knows it was big thing for this group of players to have success again. The Panthers’ last win had been on Sept. 23, 2016 against Delcastle.

“We needed a win,” said Smith. “It’s been almost a full calendar year since we had one. Especially after we felt like we had won slip away against A.I. DuPont in week one (a 28-21 loss), it was very important to focus in and get that win on Friday.

“We can’t have a lot more moral victories. It has to starting showing on the scoreboard when we get off the field on Friday night. It was good.”

This is the first time since the middle of the 2014 season that Polytech has owned a non-losing record. The 39-point total was also the Panthers’ biggest output since a 48-40 loss to Smyrna in 2014.

Reed has given Polytech the ability to score quickly. Along with his kickoff return TD against IR, the 6-foot, 175-pounder from Dover had three catches for 164 yards, with two more touchdowns, including a 74-yarder.

With two TDs in the loss to A.I., including a 67-yard kickoff return, Reed already has five touchdowns on the young season.

Smith really likes the Panthers’ group of veteran skill players that also includes Doug Reed, A.J. Foster and Zion Downing.

“It’s good to see that the hard work is starting to pay off,” said Smith. “To come out of the gate with the kickoff return by Tucker, it sets the tempo. A couple long plays from him and we got the momentum going a little bit. We were able to sustain some drives in the second half and eat up some clock.”

Against IR, junior Donell Hooker (11 carries-67 yards), Foster (6-64) and junior quarterback Vincent Tascione all ran for a touchdown. Tascione also completed 9-of-16 passes for 223 yards with the two TDs.

Tucker Reed said there’s a different urgency that comes with being a senior.

“It’s just overwhelming knowing that this is my last year playing football at Polytech,” he said. “I think I’ve definitely come a long way since I was a freshman. Coach Smith just kind of took me under his wing and believed in me and what I could do as a player to help the team out.”

Smith said that, the day after the loss to A.I. DuPont, he could tell Reed and his teammates were taking it hard. But he thought that was a sign of progress.

PolytechÕs head football coach Kevin Smith. Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

“There was a really down mood, which is good,” said Smith. “It’s not like they accepted it — where they could have very well accepted it, considering the past couple years.

“They knew that one slipped away from them against A.I. and they wanted to make sure that wasn’t going to happen against Indian River.”

Reed said he thought there were too many times over the last few seasons where the Panthers didn’t care enough whether they won or lost.

At the end of the day, he said, winning is the only stat that really matters.

“As a team, we really have bonded together over the summer,” said Reed. “We started playing together more as one unit instead of as individuals.

“Last year, we didn’t really want to get better. But, this year, we’ve definitely turned it around. With all the seniors that we have, everybody wants to be a leader and make this team better.

“I think some of the students around school are starting to buy in, that we are going to be good. Hopefully we can get some more team support and school spirit from them. They haven’t really believed in the team in the past few years.

“But that’s also because the players didn’t really believe. They were just kind of here to play. They didn’t really buy into being the best that we can be. This year it’s definitely changed.”

Extra points

  • Radio station 105.9-FM will carry the A.I. DuPont at Lake Forest game tonight. The Milford-Polytech matchup can be heard on ESPN 930-AM, 102.1-FM and www.espn930.com.
  • William Penn used to be a regular on Caesar Rodney’s football schedule. But tonight’s matchup in Camden will mark the first time the Riders and Colonials have squared off in the regular season since 2010.

The two teams were paired up in the Division I state quarterfinals in 2013 with CR winning, 49-33.

  • In its last four games, going back to last season, Milford has surrendered only one touchdown on defense.
  • Smyrna standout running back Will Knight has scored seven of the Eagles’ eight touchdowns with 468 rushing yards in two games.
  • Dover is playing Concord tonight for the first time since 2014.

Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or walter@newszap.com.

 

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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