What… a… season.
While the 2016 fall sports calendar may not have shaken out as planned for a few teams at Indian River High School, this one has certainly been one for the record books for the Tribe.
This year, we saw the volleyball team earn their first winning season since 2011, the field hockey team make the playoffs for the first time since 2006, the Indians end up with a 1,000-yard rusher for the first time since 2013, and plenty of IR seniors go out with a bang.
So, after going through the “Not Top 10” last week, and all the best worst sports blunders from yours truly, here’s the best of the actually good stuff that happened this fall as we get ready to hit the basketball courts, the wrestling mats and the swimming pool this winter.
It’s one of those list things again — not really in any particular order and with plenty of unsolicited color commentary, and it goes like this…
(10) Oscar Cruz seals the deal in annual “Kilby Clash”
Oscar Cruz missed out on a chance to all but close out the win, up 4-3 on Cape Henlopen in this year’s annual “Kilby Clash” between IR head coach Steve Kilby and his son, Cape head coach Pat Kilby, earlier this season.
With the Vikings pillaging and plundering their way to a near-comeback after being down 4-1, Cruz found himself with the ball right in front of the net late in the game.
While he’d put too much boot into that one and send it over the crossbar, the junior forward would shake it off before getting another chance just minutes later, that time going up for a header against a Cape defender and sending it just past the outstretched fingertips of the keeper to ensure the win and keep the Indians perfect to start the season.
(9) Foreman delivers the ol’ one-two against Seaford
Gerald Foreman didn’t waste any time helping the Indians to their first win of the season, against Seaford on Oct. 3.
On his first touch of the game, he took a handoff 71 yards for a touchdown. Then, on the very next play, he introduced the Blue Jays to the ol’ one-two when he intercepted a pass from Seaford QB Isaiah Lake and ran it back 36 yards for a touchdown.
IR would go on to win it 60-20, and Foreman would eventually go on to earn All-Conference honors as a running back this season. Considering his play at corner this season, though, we’re wondering what happened to his All-Conference nod in the secondary.
(8) Should Jacob Anderson stop returning opening kickoffs for touchdowns or…?
His teammates were, of course, joking when they suggested that sophomore FB/LB Jacob Anderson should probably stop returning opening kickoffs for touchdowns. Or at least, like, wait until later in the game, or something.
Even so, there seems like there might be some John Madden football/voodoo-type curse, considering the luck of the Indian River High School football team whenever Anderson breaks a gazelle-galloping touchdown return to start the game.
That’s what happened in games against Milford and Lake Forest this season, with the Indians starting out up 7-0 on Anderson returns before the game took a turn for the worst and ended up in two Southern Division losses.
Curse or no, with Anderson only a sophomore, we’re expecting to see a lot more touchdowns to kick things off over the next two seasons.
(7) Mckenzie Johnson serves up 14-straight aces
There were plenty of Top 10-worthy plays for the Indian River High School volleyball team this season: Junior Carly Collins stealing back the momentum with four straight aces down 11-10 on Sussex Academy, freshman Julia Jordan coming in clutch at the net during her first varsity appearance and pretty much every floor-shattering “J-Bom” spike from junior Julia Bomhardt.
But the most mind-blowing rally came from junior Mckenzie Collins in a comeback win over Lake Forest on Oct. 6.
Johnson was sort of kidding when she said she was going to pull an “Emily Campbell” — referencing the player whom she watched deliver 15-straight aces for Polytech to take a game in the fifth set last season.
Joking or no, Johnson practically pulled it off after the Indians had come back to send the game into the fifth set against the Spartans, landing 14 straight aces to put her squad up 14-0 and on their way to a 15-3 win.
After the game, she admitted that the rally was “a little nerve-wracking,” which may or may not have been due to the lack of a “Here we go!” reveille call from Todd Mumford (a.k.a. “The Photobomb Phantom”) to start the fifth set.
(6) Girls’ cross-country takes down Tech
After falling just short in 2015, the IR girls’ cross-country team was ready for another shot at the record books when they hosted Sussex Tech for their home opener this season.
For seniors including Sydney Messick and Maddie Hogsten, the shot would be their last, but they’d take full advantage, rolling the Ravens 21-36 for the first time in program history.
Hogsten paved the way with a first place finish on the day, with Messick clocking in for the one-two punch just 14 seconds later and junior Olivia Garvey, junior Jewel Yanek and sophomore Sarah Roehl delivering the knockout punch with three more Top 10 finishes.
The next week, Hogsten finished Top 10 again, and then, after a quick breather, went on to run for two touchdowns for the seniors in the annual Powder Puff game. That’s some Wheaties-box-worthy running if you ask us.
(5) Rylie Cordrey saves the season
It was a historic season for the Indian River High School field hockey team, with the Indians making their first playoff appearance in more than a decade (see last week’s “Tribe Not Top-Five” for how a certain pink-shirted official robbed them of their first potential playoff win in more than a decade).
But you have to wonder if they would have been able to pull it off if they didn’t cap the regular season with a 1-0 win over Dover.
The game against the Senators had been scoreless for its first 45 minutes, until freshman midfielder Rylie Cordrey saved the day on the same play that head coach Jodi Stone had had them go over for nearly an hour in the previous day’s practice.
Practice made perfect when freshman midfielder Kaylee Hall (of “K-Hall” fame) took it past midfield through a sea of blue jerseys on a fast break, eventually knocking it down to Cordrey, who sent it home past the keeper for the goal and eventual win.
What was weird was no officials halfway up the field, with their vision considerably obstructed whistled the play dead and let Dover go all the way up the field to score while the Indians celebrated — which, after the Cape playoff game, I assumed was pretty standard in field hockey for game-deciding goals?
(4) Andrew White avoids a Ray Finkle-type scenario with game-winning kick
One of the most nail-biting games of the Indian River High School football season was the one against Laurel, where the Indians came back to win 24-22 by way of an Andrew White field goal from 26 yards out, with time practically expired (21 left seconds to go).
Talk about pressure.
Perhaps the craziest part about the whole thing was how the situation came about, when White went out to attempt a 46-yarder on fourth down. Everything that could go wrong did on that attempt (the snap, the hold, the mud, etc. etc.), and it ended up falling short, despite White being known to kick 45, like, on the reg, during practice.
But when an official accidentally whistled dead what should have been a live ball, White and the Indians got another chance when, repeating fourth down, freshman quarterback Jalen Snead launched a 28-yard prayer to junior wide out Ja’Vonta Briddell, who hauled it in just shy of the goal line.
That’s when White went back out to drill the 26-yard attempt and seal the win, successfully avoiding a whole “Laces out, Dan” type-ordeal that was sure to ensue if the movie “Ace Ventura” has taught us anything. (It has not.)
No one had much of a case for nepotism when White earned “Chris White State Farm Clutch Player of the Week” honors for the kick, considering that he had also helped the IR soccer team to a “Kilby Clash” win over Cape Henlopen by making his way through multiple Viking defenders and splitting the uprights on a dart from outside the box to put the Indians up 4-1.
Also, White finished the season a perfect 20-20 on extra points and 1-1 on field goals, which, of course, is more than we can say for the fictional Miami Dolphins kicker Ray Finkle.
(3) Josh Timmons: goal scorer, honey salesman, best interview of all time
Considering he’s made the Coastal Point cover what’s gotta be a record dozens of times by now, and certainly in more front-page-worthy photos than I’ve successfully snapped, you should probably know Indian River senior Josh Timmons by now.
What was unquestionably the coolest part of this fall, though, was when the Cape Henlopen J.V. soccer team took it upon themselves to make sure that Josh — a member of River Soccer’s TOPSoccer program for players with special needs — got to score his second career goal.
After the varsity game, which, as always, was particularly heated, I went up to congratulate him.
“Congratulations, Josh,” I go.
“Thanks Tripp,” he goes. “You can interview me if you want.”
So I do.
This is what he said:
“My goal was great. I had a pass and I just want to say I had a good time. It’s my second year for a goal — it’s my senior year, and I’m very tickled and happy. In my opinion, we’ve got a good team and motivation, and I think we should have more opportunities to get more people excited, more happier.”
Getting people excited, more happier. Certainly made me smile.
(2) Cordoba strikes again
Throughout his career, senior forward Johan Cordoba showcased some serious footwork — like, some serious “Dancing With the Stars”-type footwork, only way cooler and making Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s own personal footwork on the aforementioned program look pretty, well… rock-like, comparatively.
How about catching a pass on the end line and juggling it between two defenders, then knocking it back into play with the bottom of his cleat vs. Cape? How about popping the ball out from between the legs of a Caravel defender and twisting it out two-footed while in mid-air and pressed up against the sideline before kicking it back out to Edgardo Velasquez in the title game last year? Or how about all those other times?
But never did those fancy feet come in more clutch then they did in double-overtime of this year’s semi-final game against St. Georges. After hitting the post and putting too much into a shot that went wide left, Cordoba caught a “just go long”-type pass from Mikie Mochiam in front of the goal, juggling it between two defenders, then sent an air strike screaming past the keeper for the score.
Just like that, the Indians were headed to the state title game, and Cordoba probably headed for an eventual “Dancing with the Stars” invite.
(1) G-Mart breaks 1,000-yard barrier in style
He needed, like, 3 or something. He got 59 — and a touchdown.
Throughout sports history, there have been plenty of “into the sunset”-type ways to end careers. Ray Lewis winning the Super Bowl before going on to become a terrible ESPN commentator. Peyton Manning winning the Super Bowl before going on to not become an awesome ESPN commentator. Kobe. Jeter. A bunch of hockey guys. The list goes on…
But Indian River can add running back George “G-Mart” Martin to that list after the senior capped his career with a 143-yard, two-touchdown performance against Sussex Central in the final game of the season, in the process becoming the program’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2013.
No one needed to crunch the numbers when Martin smashed the barrier on a 59-yard touchdown to get the Indians on the board in the second quarter, earning a warm reception from the teammates that had helped him to the milestone along the way.
He’d do it again on a 40-yarder in the third quarter, but adding to the moment was when longtime teammate Gerald Foreman also finished out his Green-and-Gold career in storybook-type fashion, scoring from 8 yards out on his final career carry.
While we hope that neither Foreman nor Martin has played their final game on the gridiron, we also hope that one of them eventually goes on to replace Lewis alongside Peyton Manning on ESPN’s “Monday Night Countdown.”
Johan Cordoba’s goal from 30 yards out in the state championship soccer game against Tower Hill; Johan Cordoba’s 51st-minute goal to send the Indians past Sussex Central in the regular season; Kayler Townsend scores four for Selbyville in their win over MMS; Selbyille Middle School volleyball finishes 10-0 for the second straight season, under head coach Sally Craig; Sydney Messick medals at the Henlopen Conference cross-country championships; Mac Smith’s almost-goal through four Tower Hill defenders in the title game; Madi McGee’s should-have-been goal against Cape Henlopen in the field hockey playoffs; and George Martin’s “no-helmet” run against Sussex Tech…
Like I said: What… a… season.