Kevin Smith didn’t know much about the Polytech football program, and that was probably a good thing.
The Panthers had gone 8-32 over the last four years, playing primarily against Division II teams in the Henlopen South. The outlook was even bleaker this year, when changes in enrollment pushed Polytech into a schedule filled with Division I teams in the Henlopen North.
But three games into Smith’s tenure, the Panthers are 3-0.
“The staff and I are on the same page. There’s no nonsense,” Smith said Monday. “Don’t accept losing. Don’t accept getting beat. … I told the players I’m tired of people asking me if we thought we could keep the games close. No. It’s 11 on 11, we’re playing to win the game.
“Myself and the staff and the players, we don’t practice, we don’t watch film, we don’t game plan, we don’t do all of that all week and take time away from our personal lives just to come close. That’s the sort of attitude we bring.”
Smith was a four-year starter at quarterback for Towson University from 1995-98. He came to Polytech from Woodbridge (Va.), where his teams went 29-19 and reached the regional playoffs in three of his four seasons.
The Panthers opened the season with a 30-6 victory over Delcastle, then got past Woodbridge 26-17 and shut out Seaford 42-0. But Smith could see his players buying in to the new system during preseason scrimmages against Laurel, Conrad and Glasgow.
“We noticed a change in their thinking after our scrimmages,” the coach said.”We did very well. If you want to keep point totals, we actually won our three scrimmages. I think it all started there.”
Junior quarterback Alex Winchester has completed 58 percent of his passes for 450 yards, five touchdowns and only one interception in Polytech’s spread offense. Gabe Brown has rushed for 260 yards and five scores. Anwar Marshall is the leading receiver with 280 yards and three TDs, and Matt Williams has been versatile as a receiver, runner, cornerback and safety.
Smith said the offensive line of Justin Land, John Pierce, Darrell Green, Elliott Outten, Derek Reigle and tight end Joe Lust has adjusted quickly to the Panthers’ new zone blocking scheme. Assistant coaches Bob Gilmore, Cliff Hatch, Jason Visconti, Stanley Burris and John Pierce also have played a big role in the turnaround.
Six of the Panthers’ last seven games are against Henlopen North opponents, starting Friday night at home against Smyrna.
“On Mondays, it’s really fun to come in here now,” Smith said. “… There is some excitement brewing in the building. I’m just trying to make sure the kids don’t get caught up in that, because as easily as we won three in a row, we can definitely lose three in a row.”
Rounding it up
* Maggie Delp of Cape Henlopen, Jackie Gillen of Caravel, Laura Hurff of Ursuline and Caroline Rath of Archmere have been selected to train at the 2014 Futures Elite academies, which are part of USA Field Hockey’s Olympic development program.
* Jim Fedena has been named baseball coach at Wilmington Christian. He replaces Billy Cunningham, who has been named baseball coach at Appoquinimink. Fedena, who has past head coaching experience at Brandywine and Mount Pleasant, will be responsible for the entire baseball program at Wilmington Christian, including high school and middle school.
* Former Claymont High and Towson University outfielder Bob Pedlow, 57, died Thursday. Pedlow was a first-team All-State outfielder for Claymont’s 1973 state championship team. Visitation will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Atonement Methodist Church, 3519 Philadelphia Pike in Claymont. Service will follow at noon, with burial at Lawn Croft Cemetery in Linwood, Pa.
* Caravel is seeking a head coach for girls lacrosse. Email athletic director Bill Perdew at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.