After 10 years in the game, Joe Aviola would like to coach high school football forever.
But his job commitments have become too time consuming, so last Saturday’s 28-14 loss to Archmere was Aviola’s final game as head coach at St. Elizabeth.
Aviola’s plans changed when he was promoted to Director of International Student Services and Community Outreach at Wilmington University. He said about 14 percent of the university’s 20,000 students are international, from 93 different countries.
“I got promoted in the summer, in July,” Aviola said. “It was a bigger position than I had thought. They didn’t say I couldn’t [coach], but I just felt that I had to give a full commitment to the kids and the school… I kind of hung in there this year.”
Aviola compiled an 11-19 record in three seasons at St. E. Prior to that, he guided Delaware Military Academy to an 18-14 mark in three years, including the school’s first DIAA Division II playoff appearance in 2012. The St. E graduate was DMA’s defensive coordinator for four years before moving up.
Aviola said he is stepping down to devote more time to his job, and allow the Vikings to hire a coach who can make a full commitment. He said St. E’s football roster has grown from 17 to 45 in his three years at his alma mater.
“The university has been very, very good to me,” Aviola said. “I’d like to remain doing what I’m doing, but I have to be fair to the kids. I really like the direction [St. Elizabeth] is going.”
Aviola said he will miss the relationships with the students and the state’s other head coaches most.
“Any time you have an opportunity to impact a kid’s life, and not only athletically but socially and academically, it’s great,” he said.
More football for Friends
When the DIAA football pairings were announced on Sunday, fifth-seeded Wilmington Friends found out it will be traveling to fourth-seeded Milford for the first round of the Division II playoffs at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
The date, time, location and opponent didn’t matter to Quakers coach Bob Tattersall. He’s just happy to see the football season continue.
“To me, the nicest thing about the tournament is if you get in and you like your team, which we do, then you get to practice another week. Maybe two, maybe three,” Tattersall said. “You don’t want it to end. That’s really the thing that is great. We get to practice with these guys for another week and prepare for a really good team, whoever it is.”
Friends (9-1) has reached the semifinals the last two seasons before losing close games to Laurel (14-0) and Howard (20-15). This Quakers team features a defense that is holding opponents to 10.2 points per game, and hasn’t allowed a point since Oct. 22.
“We just have to believe in ourselves and just keep playing as hard as we can play,” defensive lineman Daniel Adebi said. “We’ve got three shutouts in a row, so we already know we are a good team. We just have to prove it to every other team.”
Dragons on fire
Glasgow improved from 3-7 two years ago to 5-5 last year, then to 10-0 and Blue Hen Flight B conference champions this season. The second-seeded Dragons will play host to seventh-seeded Caravel (7-3) in the first round of the Division II playoffs at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
“Any time you go 10-0, make history, win a championship and have a top-two seed [in the playoffs], that makes you forget about the past and live in the moment,” Glasgow coach Shanon Riley said. “These guys are great kids, they’ve worked hard all year long, and they deserve it. They’re the ones that are executing on the field.”
Rounding it up
— The DIAA board of directors has approved Unified Flag Football and Unified Track and Field as official, DIAA-sanctioned sports. The inaugural Special Olympics Unified Flag Football championship game will be played Saturday, Dec. 3, between the Division I and II football title games at Delaware Stadium.
The playoff semifinals will be held this week, with third-seeded Seaford playing at second-seeded McKean at 3:30 Wednesday, and eighth-seeded Caesar Rodney traveling to fourth-seeded Newark Charter at 3:30 Thursday.
— Cape Henlopen running back Rasheed “Lulu” Woods finished his high school career on a high note last Friday, rushing 16 times for 215 yards and three touchdowns in a 32-21 victory over Sussex Tech.
Contact Brad Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ