The previous year’s winner usually presents the award to the Division I Coach of the Year at the annual Delaware Interscholastic Football Coaches Association banquet.
So when Smyrna coach Mike Judy took the stage at Dover Downs on Monday night, he couldn’t understand why no one went with him.
It was because Judy had won it again.
“I was not expecting that at all,” he said. “I was up there, hanging out, because I knew I was presenting. I was trying to fish around, thinking I never did hear who won it, so I could say nice things about him. I was pleasantly surprised.”
The 37-year-old Judy became the first back-to-back winner since Sussex Central’s John Wells in 2006-07. After going 12-1 and winning its first DIAA Division I championship in 2015, Smyrna rolled through a perfect 12-0 season for a repeat title last fall.
Judy saluted his assistant coaches and players, many of whom were on hand to pick up their own awards. The Eagles had six players – quarterback Nolan Henderson, running back Will Knight, receiver Emon Roberts, offensive tackle Jerren Carter, linebacker Josh Hutchinson and kick returner Leddie Brown – voted to the All-State first team.
“It’s not one guy,” Judy said. “It’s never just one person, whether it’s a player or coach. It takes many, many people who are all pointing in the same direction to get things done.”
Henderson also had a banner evening. The senior received previously announced awards as the state’s Offensive Player of the Year and Gatorade Player of the Year, and won the Jim Henry Award as the Maxwell Football Club’s Delaware High School Player of the Year.
The Philadelphia-based Maxwell Club expanded its awards to the First State last year, with Salesianum’s Colby Reeder as the first honoree. Henderson, who passed for 2,317 yards and 32 touchdowns as a senior, has committed to join Reeder at the University of Delaware next fall.
“It’s definitely cool to get it,” Henderson said. “With Colby winning it last year, it’s an honor to be involved in that and it’s humbling.”
The Henry award recognizes outstanding football ability, classroom performance and community service. Henderson volunteers with Special Olympics.
“It gets overlooked a lot, but it’s important to give back,” the quarterback said. “It’s fun to be involved in that, have that good character and do things that help the community.”
Several other awards were given at the DIFCA banquet, highlighted by Ed Manlove being named Division II Coach of the Year for the second time. Manlove, who also won in 2013, guided the Woodbridge Blue Raiders to a 13-0 season and their first DIAA Division II championship.
DIFCA presented special awards to the families of three prominent men who passed away during the football season. The family of longtime referee Mike Abbatiello, who died while officiating the Caravel at Woodbridge Division II semifinal on Nov. 25, received a lifetime achievement award.
The family of former Indian River coach Dale Steele received an honorary coach of the year award for the 1988 season, when the Indians won the D-II championship.
The family of former Archmere coach Jerry Ambrogi received a special recognition award, and DIFCA awarded an honorary 100th win to the two-time Division II Coach of the Year (2006, 2010), who won 99 games in his career and poured countless resources into Archmere and high school football throughout the state.
Longtime Salesianum assistant Tony Spadaccini received the Ed Brown Award as Assistant Coach of the Year. Wilmington Friends’ Bob Tattersall – the state’s all-time leader in coaching victories – received an award recognizing his 300th win.
Truitt to Towson
An official campus visit to Towson last weekend sealed the deal for Appoquinimink’s Jackson Truitt, as the first team All-State guard committed to play for the Tigers.
“It just felt like a real family feel,” Truitt said Monday night. “I felt like I was part of the brotherhood already there, and it just really clicked with me.”
Truitt also received recruiting interest from James Madison, West Chester and Marist. The 6-foot-2, 280-pound senior played six games with a heavy cast protecting a broken right hand last fall, but said the injury has totally healed.
“It took a little while to adjust to, but I kind of used it as a weapon,” Truitt said with a laugh. “I just went hard with it, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.”
Rounding it up
— Padua junior Lydia Olivere has been named Gatorade Delaware Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year for the third consecutive season. Olivere won the DIAA Division I title with a time of 18:23, and also won the Paul Short Run, Carlisle Invitational and Joe O’Neill Invitational while maintaining a 3.94 grade-point average.
— Delaware Military Academy senior Sydney Fulton has been named Gatorade Delaware Volleyball Player of the Year for the third straight season. The senior setter had 503 assists, 128 digs and 52 aces and maintained a 3.98 grade-point average as the Seahawks went 16-4 and won their second consecutive DIAA title.
— Middletown is seeking head coaches for girls volleyball and boys soccer. Resumes and letters of interest may be submitted via email to athletic director Colleen Kelley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Brad Myers at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ.