While they may be 0-2 so far, the Indian River High School football teamed is looking primed and ready for their first win of the season when Cape Henlopen comes to town on Friday, Sept. 23, after a strong showing against top-ranked Sussex Tech (2-0) last Friday.
The Henlopen North division Vikings were also ranked among the state’s pre-season Top 10 teams and are currently sporting a 1-1 record, coming off an out-of-state 41-0 loss to Maryland’s Oakdale High School on Friday, Sept. 16.
Cape started the year with a 49-12 out-of-state win, however, taking down Lower Cape May Regional High School from New Jersey on Saturday, Sept. 10.
They’re led by second-year starting quarterback Dillon Adams for his senior campaign. The pocket passer will look to utilize a sizable receiving core and put IR corners Gerald Foreman and Kevin Custis to the test, while trying to avoid pressure from a young IR defensive line and sophomore linebackers Jacob Anderson and Sam Miltner, who each recorded sacks against Tech’s Tyzhir Morris.
To protect Adams under center, the Vikings return Second-Team All-Conference center Robert Mitchell, also back for his senior campaign, and who will also pave the way for junior fullback and 2015 Honorable Mention selection Kolbi Wright.
The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Wright accounted for two scores for the Vikings in their win over Lower Cape May — one on a 36-yard run and the other from 3 yards out — and two scores in a 34-0 win over the Indians last season. Expect senior linebackers Gianni Gottschalk and Zion Howard to be keeping close tabs on No. 42 headed up the middle during Friday’s matchup.
Other backfield weapons for the Vikings include senior running back Jerry Harden, junior running back Ben Ashby and sophomore running back Curtis Purnell — who all three ran for touchdowns, in addition to Wright’s two, against Lower Cape May. Senior running back Rasheed Woods could also see some action in the matchup, with the Vikings possessing not only size and speed, but options at the running back position.
On defense and special teams, Cape returns junior Second-Team linebacker Cory Lawson and junior Second-Team punter Zach Dale.
They graduated four All-Conference selections from last year’s squad, including DT Michael Williams, the appropriately-named linebacker Jeremiah Smack, OG/DT Brandon Nixon and DB Deandré Sheppard.
With IR senior running back George Martin having taken the lion’s share of the carries against Tech and rushing for 186 yards and three touchdowns, Cape head coach Bill Collick and his staff will likely be game-planning for “G-Mart.”
However, like the Vikings, the Indians possess their own personal arsenal at tailback, led by senior running back Gerald Foreman, who rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown against Tech, sophomore Reshawn Turner, freshman Kevin Custis and sophomore fullback Jacob Anderson.
“It’s what the defense is going to give us,” Townsend explained of the backfield workload. “I’m assuming next week Cape’s gonna key Martin, so our halfbacks could get a lot more carries.”
Under center, freshman Jalen Snead has seen starts in both games so far, with junior Brandon Hoffman getting the nod at halftime. That’s how this game should go as well, with Townsend explaining that he expects either Snead or Hoffman to establish himself as the lone starter by Week 4, when Henlopen South play begins.
“These first three games, we’re still trying to figure out starters, essentially, for the South,” he said. “We’re really working on our depth. We’ve got four freshmen starting on defense right now, which has helped our offense — offensive line, especially — get rest and allow them to come out and be fresh.”
The Indians will also benefit from the return of senior linebacker Joey Ciriello and junior WR/LB Matt Allender.
At halftime during the matchup, the Indian River Football Boosters will be honoring all past alumni from the Blue-Gold All-Star game, including not only players but cheerleaders, ambassadors and buddies as well. Any alumni interested in attending the game are welcome to, and encouraged to contact Joe Anderson at (302) 381-8473 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Indians haven’t defeated the Vikings since the 2009 season; however, the two teams did not play against each other in 2011 and 2012.
The game kicks off at 7 p.m. at the Indian River High School football stadium, a.k.a. “The Steele Cage.” For live updates, follow @CPointSports on Twitter or follow along on the IR Team App.