Smyrna football reloads for another run

Smyrna head coach Mike Judy holds the championship trophy after his Eagles beat Middletown 30-27 in last year’s championship
game. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

SMYRNA — The three-time defending Division I football state champions Smyrna High have some holes to fill after losing a solid core to graduation.

And there’s a long list of players who are next up.

“There’s lots of kids in our program who haven’t had the opportunity to show what they can do yet,” said Smyrna coach Mike Judy. “They’re guys who are very athletic, very smart and very dedicated to their teammates. I’m excited to see those guys get to blossom.”

The Eagles have been through this before. They’ve lost some star players the last two years but were always able to reload for another championship.

This time they might have lost the most important player from their rise to prominence. Two-time state Offensive Player of the Year and the state’s all-time leading rusher Will Knight is now at Old Dominion University.

The simple fix to replace Knight is to move senior Stephen Whaley back to running back.

Whaley was Knight’s backup as a freshman in 2015 and averaged a touchdown every four carries that season. He played wide receiver as a sophomore and junior when he made the All-Henlopen Conference Northern Division team.

Smyrna’s offense should still be pretty potent with Whaley as the lead back joined by senior Emon Roberts at wide receiver, a two-time All-State wideout. Senior Saleem Wormley, a Penn State University commit, leads the offensive line.

Players expected to see increased roles on offense include wide receivers senior Ron Jackson and sophomore Devin Smith. Junior Marcus Cajuste will get playing time in the backfield along with freshman Wayne Knight, Will Knight’s younger brother.

 

Smyrna’s Emon Roberts, a two-time All-State wideout, will be one of the offensive
tools that Smyrna has to fill the void left behind by Will Knight. (Delaware State News file photo/Marc Clery)

Defensively the Eagles are led by All-State linebacker junior Debo Williams, Akil Garrett Jr. and Masen Wilson could see increased roles.

Senior kicker Anthony Buscemi also returns. Other newcomers who could play are sophomore Aidan Sanchez, junior Braden Young and sophomore Robert Robinson.

“We graduated a lot of guys and this group of returners that may or may not have been starters last year have done a tremendous job of setting the tone and leading by example,” Judy said. “I’m really impressed with them.”

The Eagles won’t have any trouble finding players this year. Judy said 90 players were at the first day of varsity practice and that does not include any freshman who would join the team later.

All-State linebacker junior Debo Williams (right) is expected to be a big part of Smyrna’s defense. (Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

“That’s a good problem to have,” Judy said. “It’s great to see so many kids playing the game we love.”

The defending champions open their season on Friday at home against Middletown at 7 p.m. It is a rematch of the last two state championship games.

Smyrna will be playing a nine-game schedule this year after Irvington, N.J. dropped its game in the third week of the season, leaving the Eagles with an open date.

 

Smyrna
2018 Schedule
SEPTEMBER
7-MIDDLETOWN 7 p.m.
14-At Franklin, Md. 7 p.m.
21-Open date
28-At Cape Henlopen* 7 p.m.
OCTOBER
5-CAESAR RODNEY* 7 p.m.
12-At Sussex Central* 7 p.m.
19-DOVER* (HC) 7 p.m.
26-At Sussex Tech* 7 p.m.
NOVEMBER
2-SALESIANUM 7 p.m.
9-POLYTECH* 7 p.m.
* Henlopen North games

2017 Results
6-0 Henlopen North, 10-2 overall
L-Middletown 28-35
L-Franklin, Md. 28-38
W-Irvington, N.J. 30-18
W-Cape Henlopen 54-21
W-Caesar Rodney 54-37
W-Sussex Central 46-13
W-Dover 54-21
W-Sussex Tech 46-11
W-Salesianum 28-7
W-Polytech 46-0
Division I state tournament
W-Hodgson 48-8
W-Middletown 30-27

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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