Smyrna adds Irvington, N.J. to fill 10-game football schedule

Mike Judy

SMYRNA — Mike Judy kept telling his players not to give up.

Even though it was getting late in July, the Smyrna High football coach was confident he could find a 10th regular-season game for the Eagles.

“They’ve been asking about it,” said Judy. “‘What are we going to do?’ I said, ‘Somebody will come open and we’ll get them.’”

Sure enough, Judy was finally able to tell his players last week that they will play a full 10-game slate.

Smyrna will host Irvington High, from northern New Jersey, on Sept. 22 in its third week of the season.

The addition gives the two-time DIAA Division I state champion Eagles a four-game nonconference slate of Middletown, Franklin, Md., Irvington, N.J. and Salesianum. Those four programs went a combined 38-9 last season.

“‘Relief’ is the word,” Judy said about completing the schedule. “We were at the point where we just didn’t care — we needed a game. We wanted to play that 10th game, we wanted to make sure we didn’t steal one from the kids.

“Now we’ve got it. Now we can get back to normalcy and trying to prepare to win game one.”

Irvington went 8-2 in the regular season last fall after starting the year with eight straight wins. With an enrollment of around 1,000 students, the Blue Knights will be on the border of the Division I-II cutoff for determining state tournament points.

Judy said the two schools have tentatively agreed to a two-game deal, with Smyrna making the two-and-a-half hour ride to Irvington next fall.

The Eagles open the season with a 22-game winning streak. But their first four games are dates with Middletown, Franklin, Irvington and Cape Henlopen.

Judy also scheduled a tough scrimmage, on Aug. 26, at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Maryland, just to get his players ready.

“We said we needed to go somewhere that will, on an individual battle basis, challenge our kids — even to our detriment,” said Judy. “We want to be put in a position where we have to fight and scratch and claw just to survive the day.

“Our first opponent (Middletown) is definitely going to put us in that position. We have a lot of returners but it’s a brand-new team.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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