With big senior class, IR has high hopes

Erick Aguilera, who made first-team All-State last fall, is part of a big senior class for Indian River this season. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DAGSBORO — Steve Kilby likes to think of them as “legacy” players.

The Indian River High boys’ soccer coach has four members of this year’s squad whose brothers won a state title with the Indians.
They’ve been around the program since they were ballboys on the sidelines at varsity games. And those younger brothers wouldn’t mind earning a state crown of their own.

“They’re really eager and anxious to get out there and play,” said Kilby.

When it’s all said and done, there’s no reason to think that Indian River won’t be a prime contender to bring home the program’s third DIAA Division II state this fall.

A year after finishing 13-4-1 and reaching the state semifinals, the Indians return all but two starters. This year’s roster includes 10 seniors, with eight total players back after earning All-Henlopen Conference Southern Division recognition last year.
Kilby clearly has some high expectations for this year’s squad.

“It’s an extremely amazing group,” he said. “The experience they’ve got, they’re extremely dynamic and the fact that they’re very, very good … this is going to be one of the best ever (at IR) possibly.

“Our back line is amazing, our midfield is really dynamic and we have a lot of flexibility with our strikers up top.”

That’s probably not what the rest of the Henlopen South wants to hear from a program that has already dominated the division for the past few decades.

Indian River has failed to win the South only twice since 2001. That adds up to 17 division championships in that 19-season stretch.

The Indians have also made the Division II state finals four times since 2013.

Last fall Indian River lost to Wilmington Friends, 3-1, in the state semifinals after falling behind 2-0 at halftime. Archmere edged the Quakers, 1-0, for the state crown.

Evan Peterson saw action as a freshman last year for the Indians, who lost in the Division II state semifinals.

Erick Aguilera, Jordan Illian and Jared Cordoba all made first-team All-State last season as underclassmen.

The Indians, who open the season by hosting Polytech on Oct. 20, play five of their first six games at home. That run is capped off by a showdown with Caesar Rodney on Nov. 2.

The Riders and Indian River have squared off in the Henlopen Conference championship game four times in the six years since the contest was inaugurated.

The Indians’ lone game against a non-Henlopen program in their 12-game schedule this year is against Delmarva Christian.

Given the coronavirus pandemic, this has been a strange year for everyone, of course. There’s no guarantee that a virus breakout won’t stop the season.

Kilby just hopes his seniors get to play their last season and live up to their potential.

“For me, as a teacher and a coach, it’s a really bizarre thing to not have kids in school but to be pursuing high school athletics,” he said. “That being said, these guys deserve this senior year. It’s a special group for us so we’re looking forward to it.”