The flags have been waved and the fireworks have been shot, so high school football is right around the corner.
It’s just over a month before preseason practice begins on Aug. 15. With Labor Day falling on the latest possible date of Sept. 7, the season will get off to a late start on Sept. 10. But it’s never too early to take a peek at some of the most intriguing Week 1 matchups.
The season begins with two Kickoff Classics sponsored by the Delaware Foundation Reaching Citizens with intellectual disabilities on Thursday, Sept. 10. Division II state finalist Laurel will travel to Sussex Central, which won its last four games to finish 5-5 last year, for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff in the downstate game.
Delaware Military Academy (6-4 last season) will take on Charter of Wilmington (1-9) in the upstate game at 7 p.m. at Baynard Stadium.
The opening Friday features plenty of competitive matchups, highlighted by Middletown at Caesar Rodney in a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. The Cavaliers reached the D-I championship game last season, while the Riders return much of a 2-8 team and hope to make big strides under new coach Dan Candeloro.
Division I Concord will travel to D-II Caravel for a 7 p.m. kickoff, with both teams looking for a big year after going 7-4 and losing in the first round of their respective playoffs last season.
Hodgson, which has won the last two Division II titles, will get its first taste of life without graduated quarterback Ray Jones in a difficult trip to Lake Forest. The Silver Eagles ended the Spartans’ undefeated season with a 22-13 victory in the first round of the playoffs last season, so Lake Forest will have plenty of motivation.
St. Mark’s, which went 8-4 and reached the Division I semifinals last year, will play its first game as a Division II school at home against an old D-I rival, as Newark makes the short trip up Kirkwood Highway for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
The Spartans had no trouble filling a schedule, as they will meet returning D-II playoff teams Lake Forest, Archmere, Caravel, St. Georges, and Hodgson before closing the regular season at home against traditional rival Salesianum on Nov. 13.
Archmere, a Division II playoff participant at 7-4 last year, will open against Howard (6-4) at 7 p.m. at Baynard Stadium. Sussex Tech, coming off a 10-2 season that ended in the Division I semifinals, will travel upstate to A.I. du Pont (5-5 last year) at 7 p.m.
A couple of downstate teams face difficult openers on the road. Dover (3-7 last year) will get started at Baltimore Dunbar, which went 10-4 last season and lost in the MPSSAA Class 2A championship game.
Indian River (4-6 last year) will make a 290-mile round trip to Frederick, Maryland, for its first game under new coach Phillip Townsend against Linganore. The Lancers were 11-1 last season, the only blemish coming 14-13 in the quarterfinals of the MPSSAA Class 3A playoffs.
The highlight of the opening Saturday will come at 7 p.m., when William Penn will install temporary lights for the second straight season and play host to St. Georges. The defending Division I champion Colonials and D-II semifinalist Hawks will be meeting for the first time.
It won’t get any easier for William Penn the next week, as the Colonials travel to Middletown on Sept. 18 for a rematch of last year’s D-I championship game.
Salesianum will open its season at home vs. Cardinal O’Hara (Pennsvylvania), which went 1-9 last season, at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 12 at Baynard Stadium.
The Jim Williams Award, given to the players contributing most to team morale and spirit, went to Hodgson’s Dwight Chavis (Blue team) and Sussex Central’s John Messeck (Gold) at the end of the Blue-Gold All-Star Football Game on June 20 at Delaware Stadium.
A new honor – the Coach Jack and Pat Gregory Outstanding Leadership Award –went to Hodgson’s Ray Jones (Blue) and Newark’s Ben Campbell (Gold). The award is in memory of Jack Gregory, who played an integral role in the Blue-Gold game’s inception in 1956 while coaching at P.S. du Pont. He went on to coach at East Stroudsburg, Villanova and Rhode Island, and serve as athletic director at Bowling Green. Gregory died Dec. 4 at the age of 87. Pat is his late wife.
Rounding it up
•Polytech pitcher Shaina Reed has been named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America second team. Reed went 17-1 with a 0.51 ERA and hit .552 with 23 RBIs as the Panthers won the DIAA state championship.
Reed also was selected to the NFCA All-East Region first team. Polytech outfielder Kailey Perry was named to the All-East Region second team.
•Zach Chupa, a former University of Delaware runner and assistant at Tatnall the last 10 years, has been named Sanford’s head coach for boys and girls cross country. New faculty member Karl Honma, a member of Hawaii-Hilo’s Athletic Hall of Fame as a runner, will serve as one of the assistant coaches.
•David DuHadaway, who has head coaching experience at McKean and Pencader Charter, has been named Sanford’s head coach for boys soccer.
•A.I. du Pont will induct another class into its A.I. Hall of Fame during the Nov. 6 homecoming football game against Appoquinimink. People may be nominated for achievements in athletics, academics or school and community. Email athletic director Mark Alley at Mark.Alley@redclay.k12.de.us for nomination forms.
Contact Brad Myers at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ