The last time a running back enjoyed a great game the week before playing St. Mark’s, the Spartans’ defense put up a wall.
St. Mark’s will be challenged again tonight as Marcellus Pack, who scored six touchdowns in Dover’s 59-44 victory over Mount St. Joseph’s (Md.) last week, will lead the Senators against the Spartans. Kickoff is at 7 at St. Mark’s.
“We’ve faced some good backs, and it’s the same thing,” Spartans coach John Wilson said. “You just can’t let these guys get going. You’ve got to make sure you get them running sideways and make sure you take away their momentum.”
Sussex Tech’s Kani Kane piled up 232 yards and four touchdowns in a season-opening, 47-28 victory over A.I. du Pont. The next week, St. Mark’s kept him off the board and scored a 41-0 shutout.
Next up is Pack, who transferred from Baltimore and had to sit out the first two weeks of the season while the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association confirmed his eligibility. Pack made the most of his Dover debut last Friday, rushing for 246 yards and five touchdowns on just 13 carries and returning an interception 42 yards for another score.
“He’s just a good kid who takes his opportunities and does well with them,” Dover coach Dante Jones said of Pack. “But the key to our success is our offensive line. They open up holes, and our backs have done a good job of hitting them.”
The Spartans (3-0), ranked third in Division I, shut out William Penn and Sussex Tech before pulling away from a halftime tie for a 33-13 victory over No. 5 Sussex Central last week. Dover (2-1), ranked seventh in Division I, lost its opener 20-16 at powerful Urbana (Md.) before downing Concord 26-14 and throttling Mount St. Joseph’s.
The Senators’ spread offense had plenty of weapons before Pack arrived. Against Concord, Raekwon Bouges rushed for 128 yards, Rob Knox added 82 and quarterback Nick Spadafino threw three touchdown passes to receiver Tavarus Sample.
“These guys are the true definition of the spread, because they balance the run and pass,” Wilson said. “They hurt you with a lot of things. … I would say it’s the most balanced spread offense we’ll see.”
Pack, Bouges and Knox each had at least one gain of more than 20 yards last week, all keyed by a veteran group up front.
“The offensive line, all of them have starting experience,” Jones said. “Some of them, this is their third year starting on the varsity. They’re getting good movement, and in the spread, if you get good movement up front it creates a lot of seams. We’re just teaching our backs how to hit those seams.”
The Spartans also have been balanced on offense. Running back T.J. Brown has scored in all three games and has five touchdowns total. Fullback Brendan Fogarty has four scoring runs, including three last week, and quarterback Zach Whitehead has thrown two touchdown passes.
“I think our offense has done a fantastic job of taking advantage of the field position that the defense has given them,” Wilson said. “The defense has created turnovers, and our offense hasn’t turned the ball over. That has been the difference.”
In other notable games this weekend:
* Two of Division II’s best tangle at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, as top-ranked St. Georges (3-0) hosts to No. 3 Hodgson (1-2) in a game that should play a big role in deciding the Blue Hen Flight B title.
* Henlopen Conference play cranks up tonight, featuring Division I fourth-ranked Caesar Rodney (1-2) at No. 6 Cape Henlopen (2-1) in a key Northern Division battle at 7:30. The top Southern Division game has Lake Forest (2-1), ranked seventh in Division II, traveling to No. 4 Delmar (3-0) at 7:30.
* Salesianum (3-0), ranked second in Division I, plays host to Glen Mills (Pa.) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Baynard Stadium. Glen Mills, a residential school for court-referred young men, has had some powerful teams in the past but is 2-2 this year and 23-17 over the previous four seasons.