Not many high school running backs get 15 carries in a game.
So when a receiver catches 15 passes, it’s a pretty big deal.
That’s what senior Jamai Rice of St. Mark’s did during Friday night’s 24-0 win over Hodgson. Quarterback Billy Sullivan repeatedly connected with Rice for 158 yards and two touchdowns.
“It’s what he does after contact that makes him so special,” St. Mark’s coach John Wilson said Monday. “You never know what’s going to happen when he touches the ball. It’s usually something positive, so we want to try to get him as many touches as possible.”
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Rice is the Spartans’ leading receiver (35 catches, 454 yards, 6 touchdowns) and second-leading rusher (49 carries, 255 yards, 2 TDs). He also returns punts and kickoffs and had an interception against Hodgson.
“We’ve been trying to find as many different opportunities to get him the ball,” Wilson said. “… He’s definitely been the guy. We’re trying to find some other guys to help complement him.”
The Spartans struggled early, starting 0-2 while losing top running back Tyler Kaczmarczyk and left tackle P.J. Groves to season-ending injuries in the first two games. But Rice scored all four touchdowns in a 28-14 victory over Caravel. He threw a 33-yard touchdown pass and accounted for 127 yards of total offense in a narrow, 20-16 loss to St. Georges – the top-ranked team in Division II.
St. Mark’s has battled back to 4-4 with two games remaining – vs. St. Elizabeth at Baynard Stadium at 7 p.m. Friday, and the traditional rivalry meeting with Salesianum on Nov. 12 at Delaware Stadium. The Spartans will get a playoff points boost from playing an extremely difficult schedule, but may need to win both games to reach the eight-team postseason field in Division II.
“Let’s get through this week here, and then with one game remaining let’s see where we stand,” Wilson said. “I know there are a lot of bonus points out there, but I also know a lot of things have to go our way with certain teams losing, too. We’ve got to take care of our end of the deal.”
Starting a new streak
After Salesianum ended William Penn’s 19-game football winning streak with a 30-13 victory on Saturday, Colonials coach Marvin Dooley focused on starting a new, four-game run.
That’s the length of streak William Penn will need to defeat Charter of Wilmington and Delcastle to finish the regular season, then win two playoff games to defend its DIAA Division I state title.
“I think some of the pressure will be off now,” Dooley said. “I never talked about the streak, but everybody walking the hallways in school talks about it. Now it’s over. Now we can just go play football.”
Dooley is confident his team will bounce back after losing for the first time since Nov. 16, 2013, when Caesar Rodney dropped the Colonials 49-33 in the first round of the playoffs.
“I want them to remember this feeling,” Dooley said. “Because the last time we felt it was down at Caesar Rodney. If we respond like we did then, we’re going to be good. Those guys took that loss hard, and they came back to work hard.”
Sals in a rush
Colby Reeder got most of the attention for Salesianum after rushing for 173 yards and scoring all four touchdowns against William Penn. But the Sals’ pass rush also was a big key to their success.
“They’ve gotten better every single week,” Sallies coach Bill DiNardo said of his defensive front. “Kyle Cathers is a proven person there, Marek Easton has come on, and our linebackers do a very, very good job.”
The Sals registered 12 sacks in a 21-7 win over Dover two weeks ago. On Saturday, they sacked William Penn quarterback D.J. Johnson three times, forced him to scramble three other times and prompted the three-year starter to rush a few throws.
Johnson did complete 9 of 16 passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns, both to Chichi Amachi.
“D.J. didn’t play his best game, but it’s hard to play your best game when you’re on the run that often,” Dooley said.
Field hockey showdown
No. 1 Cape Henlopen (14-0) was scheduled to travel to No. 2 Delmar (13-0-1) for their annual field hockey battle on Oct. 1. But a forecast of heavy rain that day prompted them to push the showdown to 3 p.m. Tuesday – the last game of the regular season for both teams.
“I think it’s great that we get to play them right before we go into the playoffs,” Delmar coach Jodi Hollamon said. “I think it’s a great thing for both teams that Mother Nature stepped in and we didn’t play when it was scheduled.”
The Vikings have won the last four state championships, have won 81 games in a row against Delaware opponents and are riding an overall 68-game unbeaten streak. But the Wildcats have often come close to breaking those streaks over the years.
Delmar lost to Cape by one goal – 3-2, 2-1 and 1-0 – in the 2011, 2012 and 2013 state championship games. The Wildcats also took the Vikings into overtime before falling 2-1 on Oct. 1, 2013 – the last time the teams met in Delmar.
“They have a winning tradition, and they know how to win,” Hollamon said of Cape. “Without a doubt, they finish around the goal cage. But if the right team comes along and has a great game against them, I do think they are beatable.”
Delmar lost to Polytech in the state quarterfinals last season. But the Wildcats gained a little regular-season revenge on Oct. 8, as Hailey Bitters scored the tying goal with 16 seconds left and Paige Twilley-Webster found the cage in overtime for a 3-2 win over the Panthers.
Twilley-Webster, a senior, is Delmar’s top attacker and leader.
“She is absolutely leading the charge,” Hollamon said. “She’s intense, and she keeps everyone else intense. She creates things offensively with her speed.”
Rounding it up
— The Henlopen Conference boys soccer championship game will be played at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Briggs Stadium in Milford, with Northern Division champion Cape Henlopen taking on Southern Division winner Indian River. The teams met during the regular season, with Cape winning 2-1 at IR on Sept. 29. Admission is $7.
— The Newark Charter boys cross country team won the first varsity conference championship in school history at the Diamond State meet Oct. 22 at Brandywine Creek State Park. Bryan Delle Donne (second), Owen Crosby (third) and Noah Seador (sixth) led the way.
The Patriots’ volleyball team will make the first state tournament appearance in school history on Thursday. Newark Charter (9-6) earned the 21st seed and will play at 12th-seeded Tower Hill (10-5) at 6 p.m.
— Caravel is seeking an assistant coach for softball. Email athletic director Bill Perdew at email@example.com for more information.
— Tuesday will be A.I. du Pont athletics night at the Olive Garden restaurant at 305 Rocky Run Parkway, just off U.S. 202 in Brandywine Hundred. Ten percent of the restaurant’s sales will be donated to the A.I. athletic department.
Contact Brad Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: BradMyersTNJ