Smyrna rolls by Appo, eyes Sallies rematch

Special to the Delaware State News/Doug Curran

SMYRNA —The first two games on the Smyrna High football schedule didn’t look nearly as appealing as the third.

But the games still had to be played and the Eagles still had to take care of business in order to set up a hotly anticipated matchup in Week Three — a rematch of the Division I state championship game against Salesianum.

Smyrna did its part, behind senior quarterback Nolan Henderson’s four touchdown passes to defeat Appoquinimink 64-16 on Friday night. Smyrna is now 2-0, outscoring its opponents 120-16, as the defending champions head into the Salesianum contest.

“We definitely had to take care of this week first and then look to Sallies,” Henderson said. “A lot of teams can get caught up looking to the next week then slip up. But all week we looked at Appo and how good of a team they are.”

Friday night’s game was typical Smyrna as the Eagles used their high-powered offense to pull out to a big lead and ended up scoring 64 points against the Jaguars (1-1) for the second time in as many years.

It was a balanced effort as Henderson threw touchdowns to four different receivers. Junior running back Will Knight also threw for a touchdown while Leddie Brown ran for a touchdown, caught another and returned a kickoff for a third.

Brown is in his first season with the Eagles after transferring from Eastern Christian Academy. He already has seven touchdowns through the first two games of the season.

“I just do my part and do whatever it takes for the team,” Brown said. “I think I can make plays for my team at any point in the game.”

While Brown is also a running back by nature, Smyrna has found ways to get both him and Knight, the state’s reigning Offensive Player of the Year, both on the field at the same time.

“They really feed off each other,” said Smyrna coach Mike Judy. “They’re both so selfless. All they want to do is win, they don’t care who gets the touches, who gets the touchdowns, they don’t care.”

Knight caught the first touchdown on the second play from scrimmage. He lined up at a wide receiver position, received a screen pass on the right sideline and went 50 yards for the score.

Marcus Vass caught a 15-yard pass for a touchdown on the Eagles’ next drive before Emon Roberts made a lunging catch in the end zone for a 16-yard score on the following series. Brown caught Henderson’s fourth touchdown in the third quarter for 25 yards on a fourth down conversion.

“I have a lot of weapons I can go to,” Henderson said. “Teams can’t double-cover one of them because I’ll have other guys to throw to.”

Brown also scored on a 97-yard kick return that started with a stiff arm to knock a Jaguar defender to the ground before Brown found daylight on the sideline. Brown’s rushing touchdown was 41 yards on the Eagles’ first drive of the second half, set up by a diving interception by Jake Soroko.

Keshaun Tolbert added a rushing touchdown from 40 yards out in the fourth quarter. Smyrna also scored on a safety in the second half when Josh Hutchinson tackled the Appoquinimink running back in the end zone.

Now it’s on to Salesianum, a team that the Eagles defeated in overtime in the state title game, but also lost to 76-56 during the regular season.

“I’m blessed with a team that just does not look ahead,” Judy said. “All we talked about this week was Appo and how good of a team Appo is. They’ll do some damage, I think we just pulled ahead from them at the end of the first half. But we were focused on Appo and now, all eyes are on Sallies.”

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