Fresh off their first win of the season, the Indian River High School football team will look to make it 2-0 in the Henlopen South when they host Laurel on Friday, Oct. 7.
At 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the division, the Bulldogs are coming off a 22-20 loss to rival Delmar on Sunday, Oct. 2, after taking down Sussex Tech 59-35 the week prior.
They’re led by senior All-Conference quarterback Perez Nichols, who at 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, possesses both size and speed as a dual-threat quarterback.
Nichols scored off an 11-yard bootleg in last week’s matchup against Delmar and should put IR senior outside-linebacker Joey Ciriello and sophomore outside-linebacker Jacob Anderson to the test on Friday.
Senior running back Deon Parker ripped off a 33-yard touchdown run against Delmar, also adding an interception in the red zone at strong safety. The 5-foot-9, 165-pound Parker could be a factor on both sides of the ball and will be joined by senior running back Yolnex Gustin to round out a speed-filled backfield.
Other factors in the secondary for the Bulldogs include junior Kevon Williams, who also picked off a pass against the Wildcats, and sophomore Zion St. Jean, who returned an 82-yard interception for a touchdown in the same game.
“I’m expecting them to be ready to come in and fight,” said IR head coach Phil Townsend of the Bulldogs. “I know coach [Eston] Ennis is going to do a good job coaching up his guys this week, and they’re gonna be ready to come in and go after us.”
The competition at quarterback continues between junior Brandon Hoffman and freshman Jalen Snead, with both players expected to see snaps again come Friday night.
Hoffman went 2-4 for 37 yards and a 29-yard touchdown to junior wide receiver Ja’Vonta Briddell, and Snead went 1-2 for 20 yards with a touchdown pass to senior running back George Martin during Monday’s matchup against Seaford.
“We like healthy competition, so we really like those guys competing against each other,” said Townsend. “Right now, we’re gonna go with those two and see who wants to take it this Friday night. Against Laurel, you’re gonna see the best we’ve got.”
One area of the lineup with more answers than questions is in the backfield, where Martin and senior running back Gerald Foreman continue to see the lion’s share of the carries, with freshman running back Kevin Custis and sophomore fullback Jacob Anderson also getting into the mix.
Junior wide receiver Ja’Vonta Briddell continues to lead the receiving core, with five receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown so far this season, and in the trenches on both sides of the ball, the Indians continue to stay healthy.
At halftime during Friday’s game, the Indian River High School Football Boosters will honor alumni from the 1980s, after honoring alumni from the 1960s and 1970s in Week 1, and Blue-Gold All-Star alumni during Week 3’s matchup against Cape Henlopen.
“We’re hoping to get more people out — 1988 was a state championship team,” said Townsend. “Next year, we’re hoping to recognize the ’88 team at one of the games. We’re just trying to get some more people out to the games and some more community support. I think the win tonight will help that and, hopefully, we’ll have a big crowd against Laurel.”
Alumni from the 1980s interested in attending the game are being encouraged to contact Joe Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last season, the Indians came back to take down the Bulldogs 28-18 in a rain-soaked game on the road after trailing 18-6 at half.
The last time that Laurel won the division matchup was in 2014, which was the same year that the Bulldogs made it to the DIAA state championship game.
The game is set for Friday, Oct. 7, at the Indian River High School football stadium, at 7 p.m. For live updates, follow @CPointSports on Twitter.