It’s a phrase I never imagined I’d be able to use with a straight face: “Man — I could really use the help of R. Chris Clark right about now.”
As you may know, the whereabouts of the formerly famous Coastal Point focus-puller and very much still-infamous zipper-pants enthusiast are still currently classified, as he unzips his way across the globe, bouncing between “Rocky Horror Picture Show” conventions and finger-painting buses in non-objective detail and/or doing whatever other eccentric avant-garde artist things that he’s set out to do in whatever eccentric avant-garde artist places that he’s set out to do them.
But classified whereabouts or no, with nine teams to cover at Indian River High School this spring, and with junior golfer Sarah Lydic headed to Augusta, and Lower Sussex Little League about to throw out the first pitch, and approximately 1 million 5Ks coming up — and, of course, as always, pickleball — one thing is for sure: I could really use the help of R. Chris Clark right about now.
Believe it or not, RCIII could actually spin a pretty proper yarn when it game to post-game interviews, assuming the patience-practicing assistance of seasoned post-game interviewees such as IR senior/inevitable future president of the United States Maggie Ford, of course.
He even owned his own car, with insurance and everything, and could get himself to games at least fashionably late, despite some, at the very least, fashionably questionable vintage threads, whenever there were like, let’s say, five different games going on at five not-so-different times at five very different locations.
So, if you want to know the truth, it’ll actually be tough to get to them all without his help, even in a pair of freshly pressed non-zip-offable pleats.
That being the case, here are some potential spring stories as we gear up for the spring season, R. Chris Clark-less; just in case I have another near-death experience at Cripple Creek and actually don’t make it out alive this time or something…
‘The Return of Captain Blood’
Earning the nickname “Captain Blood” by running the IR girls’ lacrosse team like they were the IR girls’ cross-country team getting ready for Rio last season, head coach Kelsea Ayers returns to sound off the troops once again this spring.
Major plot points: With the team left “Shue-less,” who steps up to fill the void left by leading scorer Emiley Shuey? Can “Captain Blood” get the Indians to the playoffs? Will there be a sequel to the “Running Man Challenge” dance video directed by a particularly talented young visionary?
Will assistant coach Anne McBride ever actually invite us to Florida with her for the winter? Will Boosters President Sherry Brannon ever team up with the former state-line “Weiner Wagon” and finally sell hotdogs at the concession cart instead of just umbrellas? These are the questions.
With the biggest turnout for IR girls’ tennis in years, string theory would suggest that head coach Stephanie Riddle and her squad are looking pretty ace, in terms of serving up the school’s fourth straight Henlopen South title.
On the boys’ side, head coach Mariano Woo returns an array of soccer stars turned fuzzy-yellow-ball-hitters, looking bring home their first division title since 2015.
Major plot points: How will sophomore Alexa Fitz volley for serve with her jump to first-singles? Is the Henlopen Conference wide open for senior Mac Smith with Milford nemesis Colt Williamson finally out of the picture? Are the Mochiam brothers allowed to just do a bicycle kick instead of serving, or what’s the deal? Will Mrs. Mochiam be making her famous homemade eggrolls for the tennis banquet this year? Will I be invited? These are the questions.
‘Can they still kick it?’
The division. The conference. The state.
Despite graduating some contributors from last season, the checklist remains the same for head coach Steve Kilby and the girls’ soccer team as they get ready for revenge on Caesar Rodney and Caravel after getting bested by the Riders in the conference championship game and the Bucs in the state finals match for the past two years.
Major plot points: Will senior forward Maddie Hogsten become the second player in IR history to score to 100 career goals? The fourth player in IR history to be named Gatorade Player of the Year?
Will Coach Kilby break out that baby-blue jumpsuit with tiger stripes that Will Ferrell wore for the championship game in the movie “Kicking & Screaming” and/or hire Mike Ditka as an assistant coach if the girls get back to the title game for a third-straight year?
If I was promised a turkey sandwich for the team sendoff to Hockessin but then didn’t actually make it to that sendoff, is that turkey sandwich still redeemable? If so, how do I go about redeeming it? These are the questions.
‘Red socks or pinstripes?’
It’s kind of like when Wade Boggs signed with the Yankees. Or when Roger Clemens signed with the Yankees. Or when Babe Ruth signed with the Yankees. Or when Johnny Damon signed with the Yankees.
When it comes to rivalries, Indian River and Sussex Central high schools may as well be the Yanks and the Red Sox. So it’s no wonder that first-year head coach and former Golden Knight D.J. Long got a Roger Goodell-type reception from the IR baseball team on the first day of practice.
After suiting up in green and gold for the first time, however, Long is looking to lead the Indians to the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
Major plot points: With the division title up for grabs, how will a young IR squad stack up in the race for the pennant? How many times will senior slugger Zane Richard go yard this season? Will James Earl Jones actually return the homerun balls when he does, instead of just letting “The Beast” loose like he did to Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez?
Will a certain pinstriped establishment in New York come looking for Coach Long with dotted lines to sign on if the Indians can make the tournament? These are the questions.
Well, those are the questions. At least when it comes to all the teams I’ve been able to get storylines from so far this spring, no thanks to the photographer formerly known as R. Chris Clark. Stay tuned next week for all the rest. I’m headed to make good on a previously-promised turkey sandwich.