After losing two of their last three games to county rivals Delmar and Sussex Central, the Indian River varsity football team kept their feet driving. The hard work paid off in the form of a 41-7 homecoming win over Seaford on Nov. 3.
Now, according to Indians head coach Jim Bunting, a win over Smyrna in its regular-season finale will ensure the school’s fourth straight state tournament appearance and may possibly allow them to host a game.
“We could end up hosting a game, possibly against Concord if we beat Smyrna. But if we don’t win, then I don’t think we’ll make the tournament,” Bunting said. “And I don’t think we’d deserve to make the tournament if we lose.”
Indian River, though young at many positions, displayed maturity while completely dominating Seaford through four quarters of football.
Sophomore defensive back Danny Bokinsky showed that he’s grown as a football player since allowing a number of completed passes in a 20-14 regular-season opening win over Cape Henlopen. Bokinsky jumped Spencer Coulbourn’s first pass play of the first series and took it 25 yards for the Indians’ first score.
Senior captain Perry Townsend intercepted Coulbourn two plays later, which he eventually capped with a one-yard touchdown run with less than four minutes to play.
Bokinsky, Zack Kmetz and Trevor Abbott — all three sophomores — combined for 10 of quarterback Nick Kmetz’s 13 receptions, including one of his two touchdown passes.
Abbott scored on an 11-yard slant pass midway through the third quarter and came within a handful of yards of scoring on two of his other receptions.
He did fumble once but was able to recover, advance the ball forward and set up both Cody Cooke and Dominique Morris for touchdown runs on his receptions inside the red zone.
Overall, Bunting noted, his team’s homecoming win over Seaford allowed them to regain their some confidence and gain additional game experience.
In addition to his playing a bunch of sophomores, four freshmen also saw considerable time, and Bunting said noted that every snap is going to be important for their development.
“We’ve got some older guys that can be kind of critical, but they have to remember when they played in ninth grade and very few of them saw time in mop-up duty. We have four freshman that started (Rocky Whitley, Corey Showalter, Justin Rines and T.C. Howard) and I think the old guys understand that they have to let the young guys grow and the young guys understand that they’re not going to be intimidated by the leadership and that they’re here to help.”
“It’s a great opportunity for our young kids to get some experience and each week gives us another week to prepare,” Bunting said of the time leading up to the state tournament.
Injury-wise, Indian River is on the mend and should have everyone back except Sean Lynch, Phillip Townsend and Thomas Veith.
Lynch has a broken hand and has been reassured that his injury will heal, according to Bunting, but the coaching staff is hesitant to risk furthering his injury by playing him against Smyrna.
“Sean really wants to play, but we don’t want to jeopardize him doing more damage to his hand because the next step would be surgery,” Bunting said.
Indian River will travel to Smyrna for a 7:30 p.m. game to conclude its regular season.