High school football season has arrived.
Tonight’s DFRC Kickoff Classic games raise awareness of the Delaware Foundation Reaching Citizens with intellectual disabilities. And they give fans around the state a taste of what they have been waiting for all summer.
A couple of upstate-downstate clashes are on the menu, as Appoquinimink plays host to Woodbridge at 7 and St. Georges makes the trip to Laurel, which is expecting a huge crowd for a 7:30 kickoff.
“It’s exciting for the community, because it’s a new look on offense,” Laurel coach Glenn Phillips said. “Laurel is a big football town, so you can’t ask for anything bigger right now.”
The Bulldogs will take the wraps off their NASCAR offense, a spread formation that expects to snap the ball every 17 seconds.
But if any team can leave you with a couple of flat tires, it’s St. Georges. The Hawks return all but three players from a 10-1 team and open the season ranked No. 2 in Division II.
“It’s a big, big test for us,” Phillips said. “… I’m picking [St. Georges] to be in the state finals. This will give us a good idea of where we stand.”
The Bulldogs, 4-6 last year, won’t stand around. Sophomore Shyheim Holden has been converted from running back to quarterback. All-Henlopen South running back Chucky Auguste, a junior, rushed for 1,037 yards last season.
Auguste will be the single back, as Laurel goes with four wide receivers: Reggie Green, Jarrett Johnson, Johnny McGinnis and Ethan Cahall.
“It’s a wide-open offense. We had a lot of success in the scrimmages,” Phillips said. “We’re ready to see it in a game situation.”
The Hawks will put them to the test with a stout defense anchored by nose guard Tyler Odrick and a grinding running attack led by fullback Tymiere Griffin and speedy twin halfbacks Taronn and Keyjuan Selby.
And St. Georges is leaving nothing to chance. The Hawks became acclimated to long bus trips by scrimmaging at Sussex Central and Lake Forest. Coach J.D. Maull has been stressing hydration to his players all week, and the Hawks are taking four game balls instead of the typical two to deal with excessive sweat.
“We feel like we’re ready for this, but you just never know with high-school teenagers,” Maull said. “If we play the way we should play – run the ball, play tough defense and tackle – we think we should have a good shot of winning the game.”
Appoquinimink, a Division I team that finished 5-5 last season, is hoping to get off to a good start against Division II Woodbridge.
The Jaguars will be helped by a couple of new players, senior WR-S Matt Johnson and junior RB Demetrius Word. Appo QB Shane Anderson, a junior, already has two years of starting experience.
“He’s a good leader, he has a good arm and he takes control of the offense,” Appo coach Jeff Weiner said of Anderson. “He does a real nice job.”
The Blue Raiders are coming off a 2-8 season but expect to be much better in their second year of running a spread offense.
“We’re much improved. That’s for sure,” Woodbridge coach Ed Manlove said. “We can see that on the field. But the thing is, I don’t know how long we can last. We have a thin team. I think we have a good 11 players on both sides of the ball, but we can’t afford to have any injuries.”
The Blue Raiders have plenty of experience with QB Logan Wescott, SE-DB Anthony Jefferson, TE-DE Dajon Emory, RB-WR Ricky Rayford and two-way linemen Philip Petrone and Nate Opaliski.