Tough Perdue leads Raiders into Division II final vs. Howard

Woodbridge quarterback Dalton Perdue. Delaware State News/Ben Heck

NEW CASTLE — Dalton Perdue was sprawled across midfield and was not moving.

His head coach Jed Bell did not think he was going to come back into the game.

But Perdue only missed two offensive plays in Woodbridge’s semifinal game against Caravel. His return sparked a fourth-quarter rally as the Blue Raiders surged into their second consecutive Division II state title game last Friday.

Perdue’s toughness is one of the reasons Woodbridge will face off with Howard for the Division II football state championship at 6 p.m. on Saturday night at the University of Delaware’s Delaware Stadium.

Not only is the senior Woodbridge’s starting quarterback, he’s also the Blue Raiders’ middle linebacker and punter.

“He’s such a tough kid,” Bell said. “How many two-way quarterback/middle linebacker combos are there in the state of Delaware? When was the last time you saw one? He’s just a really, really tough kid. When you’re surrounded by kids like that it really brings out the toughness in others.”

“I try to be as tough as I can,” Perdue said. “I try to bring enough energy to lead the team on both sides of the ball. I try to do what the coaches have instilled in me.”

And just how tough Perdue is was on display during that semifinal.

He was knocked out of the game briefly in the third quarter against Caravel. Perdue was attempting to make a tackle on defense but let up after the play was over before he was laid out by a late hit, which drew a personal foul penalty on the Buccaneers.

Perdue was down for several minutes before walking off the field under his own power, favoring his lower body.

“It was a little scary,” Perdue said. “The trainer said there was a chance I couldn’t go back in. But I told her no, that wasn’t going to happen.”

Bell credited Perdue’s return after the late hit for providing Woodbridge with some momentum to pull off the comeback after being down 14-7.

“That was a turning point,” Bell said. “I think seeing him go down and personally we didn’t like the way it was done and handled. We wanted to rally and get it done for him.”

Perdue has scored 14 touchdowns in his first year as Woodbridge’s starting quarterback — seven rushing and seven passing. He has recorded 618 passing yards.

Perdue is in his first season with Woodbridge after playing three years at Laurel High.

“Everyone welcomed me with open arms,” Perdue said. “We just gelled from there and became brothers.”

Bell said Perdue’s leadership qualities made the transition easier.

“He’s one of those guys that kids just naturally gravitate towards,” Bell said. “Kids want to play hard for him.”

So while this is Woodbridge’s third final appearance in the last four years, Perdue will experience the thrill of a state championship game for the first time on Saturday.

“It’s awesome,” Perdue said. “I’ve never had an opportunity to do something like this. It’s probably one of the best moments of my life.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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