Smyrna’s Judy named state Division I Football Coach of Year

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Smyrna head coach Mike Judy celebrates with his players following the Eagles’ Division I state championship victory over Salesianum in December. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

DOVER — Everybody said it was about as wild a high school football game as they’d ever seen.

Games like Smyrna High’s 76-56 loss to Salesianum last September simply don’t happen very often.

Second-year Eagles’ coach Mike Judy just remembers what stuck in his head after it was over.

“There were two things for certain,” he said. “No. 1, I did not ever want to get in a game like that again. But, if we ever do get in a game like that again, we’re going to win it.

“And the second thing was, we wanted to see Sallies again. It was going to be a totally different game. We needed that punch in the face.”

Judy and Smyrna got their wish, of course, downing the top-seeded Sals 32-26 in overtime in the Division I state championship game in December.

So it hardly came as a surprise that, after an unprecedented season for the Eagles, Judy was named`the Division I state Coach of the Year on Monday night at the Delaware Interscholastic Football Coaches Association All-State banquet at Dover Downs.

Smyrna went 12-1 this past fall, made the program’s first appearance in the Division I state tournament and captured the school’s first state crown in football.

The fact that the Eagles accomplished that feat just two years after finishing only 2-8 made it seem even more remarkable.

Sussex Tech coach Mark Quillen presented Judy, a former standout center at both Dover High and Wesley College, with his trophy. Quillen had also coached against Judy in lacrosse.

“Every year, every game, his team just got better and better and better,” said Quillen. “The one thing that made him special was his passion for his players. So when I heard he received the head football job at Smyrna, I knew they were going to be good real quick.”

“He was certainly the right guy at the right time for the right job,” said Middletown coach Mark DelPercio. “Nothing surprised me. He’s got a tremendous work ethic. He’s got that tough edge to him but, at the same time, he knows how to deal with the players.”

Of course, not only did the Eagles win a lot of games but they did it with a no-holds-barred style that included regularly trying onsides kicks and never kicking extra points. They averaged 51.4 points per game.

Smyrna senior offensive guard Terren Carter, a first-team All-Stater, said the Eagles weren’t sure what to think of the style Judy wanted them to play at first.

“We thought it was crazy,” said Carter. “We were thinking, ‘How’s this going to work?’ But then they just broke it all down for us. We got it done.”

Judy himself admits there was a certain amount of risk in the style he was asking Smyrna to play.

Giving up 76 points like the Eagles did in the first meeting with Sallies is enough to make any coach stop and think.

“I will say this, the hardest thing for anybody is to stick to your guns even when things are bad,” said Judy. “Like after the Sallies game. You never see that. And to come out on the losing end, we could have easily said, ‘Let’s scrap it, we’ve got to fix everything.’

“But we didn’t. We just said, ‘Nope, this is what we do.’ We started to find a balance.”

Extra points

DIFCA presented sportsmanship awards to a player from each team in the state. From the Henlopen Conference the winners were Nick Biddle (Caesar Rodney), Brent Reed (Cape Henlopen), Logan Thomas (Delmar), Chris webb (Dover), Zion Howard (Indian River), Noah Feague-Johnson (Lake Forest), Zack Baynum (Laurel), Michael Holstein (Milford), Logan Cluff (Polytech), Phil Nix (Smyrna), Chase Wells (Sussex Central), Coleman James (Sussex Tech) and Bragg Davis (Woodbridge). … Dan Ritter, who led Howard to the Division II state title, was named the Division II Coach of the Year. … Mike Brogan, a 30-year assistant at Newark, was named the state’s Assistant Coach of the Year. … Former Newark head coach Butch Simpson was presented with the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association. Simpson retired last fall after 39 seasons as the Yellowjackets’ head coach. … Salesianum’s Colby Reeder was named the winner of the first Maxwell Football Club Player of the Year award for Delaware. … Sallies’ coach Bill DiNardo was honored for his 250th career win — which was the 76-56 victory over Smyrna.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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