Last season, the Indian River varsity golf team could do no wrong. They rattled off a 12-5 record while winning 10 of their final 11 regular-season matches. (They lost to Dover by just three strokes.) And they nearly toppled Sussex Tech in the conference championship in what became a two-stroke loss.
But that was last year, and they’re going to have to work harder if they want to have similar success, according to head coach Neal Beahan.
Getting off to a solid start, Indian River trounced Sussex Central, 175-220, on March 23 and sent perennial contender Red Lion Christian Academy packing in a 166-178 loss the next day. But momentum doesn’t win matches — especially against conference champions Sussex Tech.
Sussex Tech won both match-ups last year and made sure to keep up the effort in a 162-174 win over the Indians at Cripple Creek Golf and Country Club.
“They wanted it more than we did. They came into our house and put it in our face good. They worked harder in the off-season and were better prepared,” Beahan said of Sussex Tech.
Beahan mentioned that he’d seen the Ravens trio of seniors (Jessie Kitchen, Jason Richards and Willie Thomas) playing golf at the Bear Trap golf course throughout the off-season, and even in winter.
“I saw their three seniors at Bear Trap hitting balls all winter,” Beahan emphasized. “I didn’t see any of my guys out there.”
Since Cripple Creek is a private club, not just any Joe off the street can go play there. So Beahan expects his players to play better this season — especially since they have the inside track on two of the toughest local holes as ranked by the Delaware State Golf Association.
Five years ago, the DSGA ranked the eighth and ninth holes at Cripple Creek as two of the 18 toughest holes to hit. But despite the Indian River players practicing there daily, Sussex Tech got the better of the Indians on their own course.
“Without even looking at it, Sussex Tech did better on us on those holes. They had to have, because they beat us,” Beahan said.
Beahan mentioned that he only had two or three golfers shoot good games against Sussex Central, compared to five good games against Red Lion. Beahan wants more consistency from his golfers and the team needs lower scores if they’re going to compete again this year.
“We played well against Red Lion because we had five good scorers. We only use four, but you have to have that to beat the good teams. You won’t beat Dover or Sussex Tech with only two or three good scores,” said Beahan.
Indian River was set to Polytech on March 30 (IR beat PT 157-160 last year) and start off April with Sussex Central again on April 3, then travel to Cape Henlopen on April 4 and play at home against Caesar Rodney on April 6.
Caesar Rodney already edged out Cape Henlopen, 174-178, this season.