Vo-tech is where it’s at in Blue Hen Flight B football.
St. Georges, Hodgson and Howard – the conference’s three vo-tech schools – have dominated during the last two seasons. In that time, none of the three has lost to any of Flight B’s other members – Brandywine, McKean, Mount Pleasant, Christiana and Dickinson.
With the Hawks, Silver Eagles and Wildcats all returning significant numbers of starters, expect that trend to continue this season.
St. Georges buzzed through a 10-0 regular season with a whole new crew last year. This season, the Hawks return all but three players from that roster.
“It makes it a little bit easier for us,” St. Georges coach J.D. Maull said. “The guys already know the offense, they know the defense, they know the lay of the land.”
The entire backfield – QB Zach Wright, speedy twin RBs Taronn and Keyjuan Selby and powerful FB Tymiere Griffin – returns and should continue to thrive in an offense that mixes the wing-T with some of Navy’s option attack.
“Our guys love it, because three running backs touch the ball all game,” Maull said. “Some teams run the I-formation where it’s only the I-back, one kid, getting the ball. We like to spread the ball around and give all of our kids a chance.”
The Hawks’ lines are anchored by Tyler Odrick, a 6-foot-1, 280-pound bruiser who has caught the eye of college recruiters.
“Odrick leads the charge,” Maull said. “That’s our big guy. He sets the tone. We think he’s one of the better linemen in the state.”
Hodgson returns most of a team that only lost to St. Georges in the regular season and Caravel in the Division II state championship game. The Silver Eagles better be ready, because they open the season by hosting Caravel on Sept. 7, then meet Caesar Rodney, St. Georges and Howard in a three-week stretch.
“One of the things we’re going to continue to have is really good team speed,” Hodgson coach Frank Moffett said. “A lot of guys tested well in the 40-yard dash, and that’s going to be a plus for us this year.”
Junior QB Ray Jones is back after throwing for 1,398 yards and rushing for 1,110 more last year. The Silver Eagles also return experienced RBs Darius Smith, Ruben Saunders and Rakeim Woodland and WRs Justin Hardy and Casey Lee. Hodgson also boasts a veteran line, as Jake Jones, Dwight Chavis, Xavier Trotter, Scott Corkadel, Dustin Bieski and Bilal Nichols all have at least two years of starting experience.
Howard returns the bulk of an 8-3 team that lost to Hodgson and St. Georges, then fell to Indian River in the first round of the playoffs.
“We only graduated four starters,” Wildcats coach Dan Ritter said. “Our junior class is pretty big this year, and the seniors have been playing for two or three years. Some of them have been playing since they were freshmen.”
The X-factor will be 6-3, 220-pound senior B.J. Wright, who has extensive experience at quarterback but will expand his game this season.
“We’re going to move him all over the place,” Ritter said of Wright. “He’s going to play tight end. Then when we don’t have a tight end, he’s going to play wide receiver. And he’s going to play some defense.”
The Wildcats also will count on QB-DB Damon Johniken, RB Marvell Watts, WR Jeray Smith, FB-LB Raekwon Wells, WR-LB Chaz Sydnor, C-DT Elijah Hicks, DE-OT Marques Wells and LB Derrick Williams.
A quick look at the other teams in Flight B:
BRANDYWINE: The Bulldogs won four of their last six games to finish 4-6 last season and will try to keep that momentum going behind senior linemen Jordan Guy and Ricky Carpenter, senior LB-RB Tyrezz Walker, junior lineman Cody Hoesterey, junior LB-RB Stefon Johnson and TE-LB Josh Fontana.
McKEAN: The Highlanders won three of their last four on the way to a 5-5 mark in 2012. Coach Mike Ryan believes QB-S Darius Jones is one of the top players in the state. Lineman Malick Diallo, RB-LBs Jaleel Heyward and Thomas Berry and WR-LB Slim Kellam also return.
MOUNT PLEASANT: The Green Knights, 5-5 last year, will depend on TE-LB Ramier Freeman, lineman Mason Mitchell and sophomore RB Dannon Williams. Marcus Lopez will play linebacker and also may start at quarterback.
CHRISTIANA: New coach Virgil Rush and the Vikings will work to break an 18-game losing streak behind the leadership of linemen Abdur Wilson, David Davis and Diondre Hamm, WR-DB Torrey Cowan and RB-DB Jaylon Maxson.
The coach at Dickinson could not be reached for comment.