High expectations for Woodbridge football

High expectations for Woodbridge football

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High expectations for Woodbridge football

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The Woodbridge football team is dealing with something new this season.

Expectations.

Sure, like everybody else, the Blue Raiders have always had high expectations. But now, for the first time, the rest of the Henlopen South expects a lot out of them, too.

So coach Ed Manlove is doing his best to deflect some of the heat.

“It’s not really pressure,” Manlove said. “The good thing is, we’ve never really achieved anything so there’s really no pressure there. We haven’t won the conference or anything like that.

“We’ve just got to stay focused. The pressure part, I say it’s still on Lake Forest because they’re the champs. They’ve got to be feeling it more than we do.”

Lake Forest has won 15 straight Henlopen South games, including a 9-7 victory over Woodbridge in the fourth week of the season that ultimately decided the conference title last year.

But this year, the Spartans return only three starters. The Blue Raiders have just about everybody back from a team that went 8-4 and reached the DIAA Division II semifinals. So it’s logical to believe Woodbridge is the conference favorite.

Among the returnees are second-team All-State DE Leah Styles, third-team All-State DT Shymere Vessels, 1,000-yard rusher Terrique Riddick and QB Troy Haynes, who started almost all of last season as a true freshman. And the Blue Raiders added Brian Ireland, a 6-foot-2, 296-pound two-way lineman who transferred from Florida for his senior season.

On top of all of that, Woodbridge will add a bunch of up-and-comers from a junior varsity team that won each of its six games by at least two touchdowns.

All the familiar faces have made it easier for the Blue Raiders to hit the ground running – or passing – during the preseason.

“We just picked up where we left off last year,” Manlove said. “We didn’t have to put in the plays and explain them. They already knew what was going on. That’s the good thing, right from the get-go we were pretty much ready to go.”

Of course, there will be plenty of contenders itching to knock them off. MILFORD will be looking to take another giant leap after improving from 1-9 in 2014 to 6-4 last season, and the Buccaneers have the pieces in place to do it. RB David Bowman is an explosive talent, FB-LB Dominyc Hovington will anchor the middle on both sides of the ball, and QB William Kimmel has two experience receiving targets in Brion Murray and Marcus Correa.

If there has ever been a team much better than its 1-9 record, it was DELMAR last season. The Wildcats lost two games by one point, one game by two points, lost to Caravel in overtime and fell to Lake Forest when the Spartans ran in a blocked field goal for a touchdown on the last play of the game. So a major improvement is possible behind QB Jimmy Adkins and RB-LBs Brooks Parker and Isaac Austin.

Two-time defending conference champion LAKE FOREST won’t go down easily. The Spartans went 4-1 in games decided by five points or less last season, but the only starters returning are WR-OLB Cameron Lewis, FB Elle Harden and two-way lineman Jordan Springer.

Eston Ennis has been hired as coach at LAUREL, which slipped to 3-7 last year after reaching the D-II championship game in 2014. The Bulldogs could launch a comeback behind several experienced returnees, including QB Perez Nichols, FB Mike Handy and HBs Deon Parker and Donnell Briddell.

A brutal nonconference schedule will make it tough on INDIAN RIVER, which meets Maryland power Linganore and Division I contenders Sussex Tech and Cape Henlopen in its first three games. The Indians return RBs George Martin and Gerald Foreman and three offensive linemen.

SEAFORD has been stuck at the bottom recently, winning only seven games over the last six years. Second-year coach Dwayne Henry will try to rally the Blue Jays in his second year.

Contact Brad Myers at bmyers@delawareonline.com. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ

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Woodbridge High School football quarterback Troy Haynes warms up his throwing arm during practice.

Woodbridge High School football quarterback Troy Haynes warms up his throwing arm during practice.

Woodbridge High School football quarterback Troy Haynes warms up his throwing arm during practice.

Woodbridge High School football quarterback Troy Haynes warms up his throwing arm during practice.

Woodbridge High School football team stretches before practice.

Woodbridge High School football team stretches before practice.

Woodbridge High School football senior linemen Shymere Vessels runs linemen drills at practice.

Woodbridge High School football senior linemen Shymere Vessels runs linemen drills at practice.

Woodbridge High School football linemen Brian Ireland runs linemen drills at practice.

Woodbridge High School football linemen Brian Ireland runs linemen drills at practice.

Woodbridge High School football linemen Brian Ireland runs linemen drills at practice.

Woodbridge High School football linemen Brian Ireland runs linemen drills at practice.

Woodbridge High School football coach Ed Manlove during practice.

Woodbridge High School football coach Ed Manlove during practice.

Woodbridge High School football coach Ed Manlove during practice.

Woodbridge High School football coach Ed Manlove during practice.

Woodbridge High School football senior linemen Shymere Vessels runs linemen drills at practice.

Woodbridge High School football senior linemen Shymere Vessels runs linemen drills at practice.

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