Smyrna, Sussex Central, Woodbridge make football tourney

DOVER — There was nothing simple about playing a high school football season during a pandemic.

So there was nothing simple about choosing a state tournament field, either.

But, when the smoke cleared Sunday morning, three Henlopen Conference teams had made the eight-team field for the DIAA Division I and II brackets.

On Friday at 7 p.m., top-seeded Smyrna (6-0) – the Henlopen North champion – will host fourth-seeded Sussex Central (5-2) in the first Division I semifinal.

Woodbridge (5-0) made the Division II field and will travel to No. 1 Archmere (7-0) on Saturday at noon.

In the other Division I semifinal, second-seeded Middletown (6-0) will host No. 3 St. Georges (5-2) on Saturday at 7 p.m. In Division II, No. 2 Howard (6-0) will host No. 3 Red Lion Christian (5-1) on Friday at 6 p.m.

Both brackets were limited to four teams each after the season was shortened due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Delmar’s situation was the subject of a great deal of the tournament committee’s debate on Sunday.

The Wildcats (3-1) played only four games because of different COVID-19 situations. Delmar had its season-ending game with Laurel canceled this weekend because of a virus issue with the Bulldogs.

The committee did still consider Delmar as playing a full-fledged schedule, even though it played one one less game than required this season.

That left the Wildcats tied with Woodbridge by the point index. But the committee also voted to stay with opponents’ total victories as a tiebreaker rather rather dive that number by the number of games played.

That tiebreaker favored the Blue Raiders.

Delmar coach Dave Hearn, who spoke in the public comment session at the meeting, said the Wildcats were victims of some bad luck.

“We wanted consideration,” said Hearn, “I don’t know what else we could do. I thought the decisions were fair. There is no nice way to say, ‘Sorry, you’re the first guy out.’

“We’ve been in that boat before. It’s just the way you have to swallow it.”

In a special meeting on Saturday night, a Henlopen Conference committee opted not to declare an official Southern Division champion this season.

Woodbridge and Delmar didn’t play during the regular season because of a virus situation.

Caesar Rodney didn’t make the Division I field despite a 5-2 record and a victory over Central but that was based on the tourney points system.

Also not making the tournament is defending Division I state champion Hodgson, which lost out on a tiebreaker with St. Georges and Sussex Central.

Ultimately, the decision to count Delmar as having played enough games effected Division I, too.

That’s because one of Caesar Rodney’s five victories was over the Wildcats. And the Riders having five wins gave a crucial bonus point to both Smyrna and Sussex Central.

The Golden Knights won their final four games after losing to Smyrna, 28-24, on Nov. 6 to start the season 1-2.

Woodbridge couldn’t play its first two games of the season because of positive virus tests at the school but then won all five of its remaining contests,

Middletown and St. Georges also met during the regular season in a Blue Hen Flight A matchup with the Cavaliers winning, 41-34.

The Diamond State Conference doesn’t have an automatic tourney bid for its champion but ended up with both Archmere and Red Lion in the field.

Only four Henlopen squads played the maximum seven games this fall — CR, Central, Cape Henlopen and Indian River.

Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or