College football recruiters swarm states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, California, Texas and Florida to secure some of the best talent in the country for their respective schools. Further marking their football dominance, it isn’t uncommon to see droves of players from schools in these respective states get selected in the NFL draft each year. The University of Miami usually sees anywhere from 10 to 15 of their players make the ascension to the pro ranks each year, most of them in the first round.
With all the hype surrounding these broad talent bases, the Diamond Football League Delaware All-Stars headed down to take on the Florida All-Stars for the league championship, which Delaware won 26-12.
Prior to the game, the Florida All-Stars were rabid with adrenaline and were eager to send their northern counterparts packing for the long drive home, with dust in their eyes and memories of $8 quarter-pounder meals.
“The Florida guys were so pumped up that you could probably hear them across Disney (World),” Delaware All-Star offensive line coach Butch Yocum said. “It had me so angry that it made me want to put on pads myself. But once the game started they didn’t know what they got themselves into. They have great, great athletes and are really fast, but we kept punishing them and punishing them. We brought it to [them].”
The Delaware All-Stars led 20-0 at halftime behind three rushing touchdowns – two of them by New Castle Saints back Corey Wallace.
“Corey Wallace is probably the best running back in the DFL, period,” Yocum said. “I’ve been telling him that he needs to get an agent and go somewhere else.”
Delaware amassed 200 rushing yards and 250 passing yards in the win.
Florida bounced back to score on the first drive of the third quarter by taking a page out of Delaware’s playbook — running the ball on seven straight plays. Delaware made the necessary defensive adjustments and shut down Florida from there on, until they scored their last touchdown in the final two minutes of the game.
“They came out and ran the ball down our throat to start the second half, but we made adjustments and they didn’t score after that, except in the last two minutes,” Yocum said. “They didn’t even have 100 total yards.”
“We really shut them down,” Yocum continued.
Jonathan Meiklejohn (OLB), Alex Haynes (OG), Troy Haynes (LT), Darnell Strand (DB), Albert “Zeny” Haynes (OLB) and Shane Wooten (C) all made the Delaware All-Star team from the Sussex County Punishers (formerly the Warhawks).
Albert Haynes made the most noise in the game for players from this neck of the woods, recording four tackles for a loss and a sack.
In addition to being part of the winning DFL All-Star championship team, the Punishers have also cemented a strong foothold for next year.
Yocum mentioned that a couple offensive linemen from the Kent County Fire, who played on the right side of the line during the All-Star game, will switch teams next winter, pending a signed release paper from their current team owner. Former DFL Commissioner George Myer (defensive coordinator for the All-Star game) is filling the Punishers’ kicker position.
Myer holds the Mason-Dixon League record for the longest field goal (63-yarder) kicked in a game.
The Warhawks missed two field goals in the red zone last season against the Baltimore Nightmare and, since they missed the playoffs by just one game, Myer will yield instant dividends.
The Punishers are hoping to ride the success from the All-Star game into next season.
“That’s the main thing,” Yocum said. “Something like this will help the league grow. I mean, who the hell gets to play football in Florida?”
The Punishers have the next four to five weeks off before beginning a two-week mini camp the second and third weeks in July, to get accustomed to the playbooks. They start the mandatory two-week conditioning session on Aug. 1.
Would-be players can contact Punishers team owner Tina Dennis at (302) 393-6075.