Smyrna dominates Cape to win first North title since ’69

 

SMYRNA — On this unseasonably warm November night, there was nothing unusual about the red-hot Smyrna High football team.

The Eagles continued their season-long sprint past Henlopen Conference competition, overwhelming Cape Henlopen 60-19 to clinch the Northern Division title.

Immediately after the last few seconds ticked off to end a game that was decided long ago, dozens of Smyrna students rushed onto the field and gathered in a big huddle with their favorite football team playing at a historic level for the program.

The band played yet another loud tune and the home crowd of 1,500 at Charles Williams Stadium, celebrated Smyrna’s eighth win in nine games, with all the victories coming by at least 26 points, and most blowouts decided by six touchdowns or more.

Senior linebacker Ryan Seymour soaked it in at the end, knowing that only a victory at winless Polytech next Friday now stands between a 9-1 record and hope for a Division I state tournament first round bye.

A win next week would give Smyrna its second-best regular season in school history, topped only by the 1974 team that went 10-0.

“It’s surreal,” Seymour said as the celebratory scene unfolded around him and his teammates.

“Smyrna hasn’t had a winning season in such a long time and showing our community and the state what we’re all about is unreal.

“We’ve earned it – Smyrna puts in the work and good things have come of it for me and all my brothers on this team.”

Standing nearby was a smiling senior cheerleader Victoria Thomas, who said, “all this is really fun. The crowd is into it and it makes everyone more excited to have something to actually cheer for.”

Veteran Cape Henlopen coach Bill Collick – who has seen plenty of juggernauts in his career – sounded convinced about how good the Eagles are.

“They’re scarier in person than they are on film,” Collick said.

“They’re unbelievable and the best thing is that they worked at it to get it done. They have so many weapons and everything they do they do it well.”

Smyrna scored 30 points in each half, with sophomore running back William Knight earning four touchdowns and running in six two-point conversions behind the blocking wall of Phillip Nix, Jamal Price, Terren Carter, Evan Gallaher, and Jerren Carter, among others. Senior defensive tackle Jeffrey Campbell led the defensive push up front.

Nolan Henderson threw long touchdown passes to Brandon Bishop (64 yards) and Donte Ritchie (54 yards) as Smyrna padded its lead in the third quarter, which was aided by Knight’s 58-yard scoring rush on the second play after intermission.

Knight scored the game’s first three touchdowns and ran in a trio of two-point conversions as the hosts zoomed to a 24-0 lead in the opening 17 minutes.

Cape (5-3) rallied, however, with two quick touchdowns in a 20-second span thanks to big plays by Jeremiah Smack (28-yard catch) and DeAndre Sheppard (35-yard interception return) to set up the scores.

Michael Williams and Kolb Wright then scored on short touchdown runs and the Vikings were within 24-12 with 5:35 left before halftime.

Jerry Harden made another Cape interception and returned it 17 yards to the Smyrna 23 with 47 seconds left before intermission.

Smyrna seemingly restored order, however, when linebacker Elijah Henderson scooped up a fumble and went 65 yards for a touchdown return with 25 seconds remaining, rebuilding the hosts lead to a more comfortable 30-12 score.

“I thought we were still in it, but that interception and touchdown really changed everything,” Collick said.

The Eagles snapped a four-year losing streak to Cape, when they were outscored by a combined 155-34 margin from 2011-2014.

Besides a 76-56 loss to Salesianum in Week 3, no team came within 26 points of Smyrna in the first nine weeks. The Eagles entered the Cape game averaging exactly 53 points a contest, and their seven victories came by an average of nearly 45 points.

The Eagles scored no less than 40 points in nine straight weeks, and the defense registered three shutouts.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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