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With each of Delaware’s 43 high school football teams about to embark on nine- or 10-game seasons, there will be no shortage of action throughout the fall. Here are 10 games that will capture a lot of interest on each weekend of the season.
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The fans have filled Smyrna’s Charles V. Williams Stadium the last two seasons to watch Nolan Henderson throw for touchdowns and see Will Knight and Leddie Brown run for huge chunks of yardage.
But none of that happens without the big guys up front, the offensive line that paves the way for those heroics. As the only senior and a four-year starter, All-State right tackle Jerren Carter is the unquestioned leader of the Eagles’ blockers.
“He’s kind of the Papa Bear of that group,” Smyrna coach Mike Judy said. “He really brings that tenacity and physical mentality, and he doesn’t mess up very much.”
The Eagles’ offensive line will play a key role when Smyrna (11-0) takes on the stout defense of Middletown (11-0) in the DIAA Division I championship game at 1 p.m. Saturday. Carter knows few in the big crowd at Delaware Stadium will be cheering for the linemen.
“We get a lot of credit behind the scenes. You don’t really see it,” Carter said. “We do our job, and we get it done, and then it’s just back to the sideline.”
The 6-foot-2, 270-pound Carter has combined with juniors Brent Young, Ty-Kee Moore, Robbie Robinson and Jamie Fields to help the Eagles average 54.2 points per game this season. Henderson, who has thrown for 2,313 yards and 32 touchdowns, appreciates them.
“Without him, without the offensive line, we wouldn’t have anything,” Henderson said. “I know those guys are going to fight for me, and it makes me want to fight even harder for them. I trust in them, and they trust in me. They know if they block long enough, we’re going to score.”
It works both ways. Carter knows if he makes the right block, he’s going to be rewarded.
“Even if you get that little touch, they hit a crease and they’re gone,” Carter said. “… It’s a good feeling, seeing them hit the hole hard. We know if we stay on our blocks for four seconds, they’ll get it done for us.”
Judy, in his third season as Smyrna’s head coach, has watched Carter get better every year. His attitude is one of his biggest attributes.
“He’s very physical,” Judy said. “A lot of being an offensive lineman is about desire. Finishing plays and going to the whistle. He’s got that tenacity that you’re looking for.”
And as a senior, Carter has continued to add maturity to that package.
“Incredible leader. He’s transformed himself into that,” Judy said. “He has become a solid part of the leadership that kids can turn to if they have problems. … They look to him because he’s always going to be doing the right thing.”
Carter was a starter on a Smyrna team that went 2-8 in his freshman season. The Eagles improved to 5-5 in Judy’s first year, then 12-1 last year and 11-0 this year. The defending Division I champions will take a 21-game winning streak into Saturday’s game.
“I remember freshman year, we were taking beatings,” Carter said. “We weren’t as good, and people didn’t really give us credit. They didn’t look at us being an opponent to watch film on or look out for. … Now, we’re a top-tier opponent. But I’ll never forget where we came from.”
Now, the question is where Carter will go from here. He plans to commit to a college in December or January, and has received recruiting interest from Albany, Delaware, Florida Atlantic and Monmouth.
“I’ll get to go home and tell my Mom that college is paid for. She doesn’t have to worry about anything,” Carter said. “That’s what the goal has been for me.”
Wherever he goes, his coach says he will be a success.
“He’s going to be an unbelievable catch for a college,” Judy said. “He’s got several offers right now he hasn’t decided on yet, but he’s going to be a catch and he’s going to be a great player at the next level.”
Eagles up front
In addition to senior Jerren Carter, Smyrna starts four juniors on the offensive line. Head coach Mike Judy, a former offensive lineman at Dover High and Wesley College, credits Eagles offensive line coach Chris Sfamurri for the group’s development. Here’s a comment from Judy on each of the other starters:
Right guard Brent Young, a first-year starter: “He’s a little undersized, but very, very tough. Probably one of the strongest kids on the team.”
Center Ty-Kee Moore, a transfer from Eastern Christian Academy: “Big, solid kid, very, very strong. He’s close to a 300-pounder, and he moves his weight well.”
Left guard Robbie Robinson, a returning starter: “He’s a wily veteran, like Jerren. He’s a thinker, a small package, but he brings a lot of beef to that line.”
Left tackle Jamie Fields, a first-year starter: “He’s stepped right in and really shown that he’s matured. A big, athletic kid, former basketball player.”