There were some additional guests at the annual DIAA Football Championship Luncheon on Monday at The News Journal.
Representatives from the McKean and Newark Charter Special Olympics Unified Flag Football teams took their seats alongside the Division I and Division II finalists, as they will meet in the championship game of the newest DIAA-sanctioned sport at 4 p.m. Saturday at Delaware Stadium.
“It’s a great opportunity. It’s a great introduction to what we think Unified Flag Football can be in the state of Delaware,” McKean coach Jaxon Brown said. “We’re proud to be a part of it.
“We have athletes and partners who have been dedicated the whole season. We’ve earned the right to be there, and I think Newark Charter has done the same. It means a lot to us as a school community.”
Unified Flag Football expanded from five schools to eight this year, with teams participating in playoffs for the first time. McKean downed Mount Pleasant and Seaford to reach the final, while Newark Charter got past Middletown and Caesar Rodney on its way to the championship
“It’s an amazing thing for the all the kids, for the program, simply because it’s our first year,” Newark Charter coach Chris Muscara said. “… It was all about the kids the entire time, and our kids have grown much closer since the beginning of the season. It’s been pretty amazing to see it.”
The Unified title will be decided between the Division I and Division II championship games. Middletown (11-0) will meet defending champion Smyrna (11-0) for the D-I title at 1 p.m. Woodbridge (12-0) will take on Wilmington Friends (11-1) for the D-II crown at 5:30.
Tickets are $8, and are good for all three games. But any fan leaving Delaware Stadium will need a new ticket to re-enter.
Advance tickets are available online at www.statechamps.com/diaa. A $1.40 service charge is added, but it will allow fans to avoid what may be long lines at the ticket windows, especially before the Middletown-Smyrna game.
Wilmington Friends will be selling tickets Tuesday through Friday in the school’s athletic office, from 7:30-8:30 a.m., noon-1:30 p.m. and 3-4:30.
Newark Charter will be selling tickets from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday through Friday at the high school. The other schools involved are also expected to sell tickets this week. Check with your school for details.
Tickets will also be available at Delaware Stadium, with ticket windows opening at 11 a.m. Saturday and gates opening at 11:30.
All three games will also be broadcast live at www.nfhsnetwork.com. A $9.95 monthly pass will cover the DIAA games, plus high school championship games from around the country.
A lot of things have changed since Wilmington Friends won its first — and only — Division II football championship in 1984.
But the head coach hasn’t changed. Bob Tattersall has guided the Quakers to 303 wins in 49 seasons, the most of any Delaware high school football coach.
On Monday, Tattersall reflected on what is different about the championship games since Friends downed the since-closed Claymont High 22-6 for that ’84 title.
“The big difference is the buildup for the games, like being at the University of Delaware,” Tattersall said. “… Before when we won it, you were at a high school. We won the thing at William Penn High School, which I enjoyed anyway because that’s where I went.
“You can have two games in one day at the same location, and the big media buildup and everything, that part has changed,” Tattersall added. “But the players and the desire and all the intangible, internal things, those haven’t changed.”
Chase Archangelo knows the opportunities to be a Division I college wrestler are dwindling every year. So the Smyrna senior was thrilled to be able to sign a National Letter of Intent with Cleveland State last week.
“It felt like home when I first stepped on the campus,” Archangelo said. “The coaches are fantastic, and the wrestlers took me under their wing from the start. I like the school and the city is beautiful, and I could see myself wrestling there for five years.”
The Vikings compete in the Eastern Wrestling League, which includes Bloomsburg, Clarion, Edinboro, George Mason, Lock Haven and Rider. Cleveland State also goes against some of top teams in the Midwest as well.
“We wrestle Ohio State, Kent State, all the big schools at the tournaments,” Archangelo said. “It’s just a good fit for me. I’m truly blessed that I got this opportunity. All of my hard work has paid off.”
Archangelo’s father, Joe, wrestled at Delaware State. Chase plans to major in Physical Education and Health, then join the military after graduation with an eye on a stint in Special Forces.
Archangelo also received recruiting interest from George Mason, Buffalo and Chattanooga. He placed second in the state at 106 pounds as a freshman, then earned DIAA titles at 113 as a sophomore and 132 as a junior.
“My main goal is Beast of the East this year,” he said. “That’s my first goal, place or maybe get higher in the ranks. And then try to win a third state championship.”
Here comes winter (sports)
Delaware’s winter sports season begins Friday, with basketball tournaments at A.I. du Pont and Dickinson highlighting the early action.
The annual Tiger Tip-Off Tournament will be held Friday and Saturday at A.I. Brandywine and Wilmington Christian will get it started with a girls game at 3 p.m. Friday, followed by the Christiana boys against St. Elizabeth at 4:45. A Tatnall vs. A.I. doubleheader will follow, with the girls tipping at 6:30 and the boys playing at 8:15.
On Saturday, the girls consolation game will start at 1:15, followed by the boys consolation at 3. The girls championship game is next at 4:45, with the boys championship game scheduled for 6:30. Daily admission is $5 for adults, $2 for students.
The Dickinson Winter Classic will also be held Friday and Saturday, starting with the Howard girls vs. Newark at 3:30 Friday. The Design Lab boys will take on St. Andrew’s at 4:45, followed by the Dickinson girls against Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security at 6:30 and the Dickinson boys vs. Newark Charter at 7:45.
The girls consolation game will start Saturday’s play at 10 a.m., followed by the boys consolation at 11:30, the girls championship at 1:30 and the boys championship at 2:45.
In wrestling, the first tournaments will be held Saturday with the Polytech Invitational at Polytech and the Bulldog Invitational at Brandywine.
Contact Brad Myers at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ.