Woodbridge seeks first D-II crown vs. familiar foe Friends

Woodbridge quarterback Troy Haynes scrambles during last week’s Division II semifinal vs. Caravel. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Woodbridge quarterback Troy Haynes scrambles during last week’s Division II semifinal vs. Caravel. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

NEWARK — For two teams located on opposite sides on the state, Woodbridge High and Wilmington Friends School have become well-acquainted throughout the last several football seasons.

Woodbridge and Friends have met as part of their nonconference schedules each of the last six years.

Today they will meet again, with a state championship on the line.

The Division II finals are slated for 5:30 p.m. at Delaware Stadium. Top-seed Woodbridge carries an unbeaten record of 12-0 into the contest while Friends, the fifth seed, is 11-1.

Friends’ lone loss came to the Blue Raiders in the third week of the season, 35-7.

“We’ve had some great games with them over the years,” said longtime Friends coach Bob Tattersall. “We know them very well. They’re very good this year. They’ve been the best team this year. They will be a real challenge. Hopefully we’re better than we were back in September.”

Woodbridge is playing in the state title game for the first time. The Blue Raiders are the only team from the Henlopen Conference Southern Division to never win a state championship in football.

“This is uncharted territory for us,” said Woodbridge coach Ed Manlove. “Just everywhere we go people are wishing us the best. It’s been a great whole season. The support has been great from the get-go. We had high hopes and we have gotten to where we needed to be.”

Wilmington Friends is making just its second appearance in the finals. The Quakers won the 1984 Division II title.

Both teams have had a lot of success recently in the state tournament despite not reaching the finals until this year.

Woodbridge has been in the semifinals three out of the last four seasons. Friends had made the semifinals three years running before finally getting over the hump to the state title game with a 20-6 upset of third seed St. Georges last Saturday.

The Quakers are led by legendary coach Tattersall, who celebrated winning his 300th career game earlier this year.

“Coach Tattersall has been around a long time and he’s not going to go down easy, believe me,” Manlove said. “He’s going to do everything he can to beat us.”

Woodbridge defeated Friends in 2011, 2013 and this year. The Quakers won the matchup in 2012, 2014 and 2015.

This year’s contest was the most lopsided of the previous matchups, but the final score wasn’t indicative of the game’s story. Friends actually led 7-0 before Woodbridge scored twice in the second quarter to take a 14-7 lead into halftime and then pulled away in the second half.

“Everything kind of went our way in the second half,” Manlove said. “You can’t expect it to be the same situation the next time. So I expect a battle. They’re a very good football team. We just have to make plays and play good defense.”

No one has scored more than 12 points in a game against the Woodbridge defense this season.

Tattersall knows the Quakers will have to have a better offensive performance if they want to raise the state championship trophy.

“If we’re going to compete with them we have to find ways to move the ball,” he said. “If we keep going three and outs, they’re going to get short fields and they’re going to score.”

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