Diamond leaguers start out rough

It’s been tough sledding for both the Fenwick Island Lions and Sussex County Mustangs so far this season in the Junior Diamond Football League. Both teams were winless thus far (0-3) upon meeting each other on Feb.11, but the Lions persevered in the inclement weather to beat the Mustangs 20-6.

“This game was like a mini-Super Bowl,” said Lions Head Coach John Stevenson. “This was the game of the year, because now we have a chance to get into the playoffs.”

The Lions had to game-plan on the fly because their starting quarterback was knocked out of the game with a mild concussion. That made way for R.J. Moore.

Moore shifted from tight end to score three touchdowns on quarterback sneaks from inside the 2-yard line, but that wasn’t what left Shockley and his coaches so impressed.

“R.J. did a great job running the offense,” said team owner Kevin Shockley. “He only completed two passes (on six attempts) but he didn’t rush his throws. He set his feet and threw.”

Moore was complemented by the strong running of fullback Jordan Malone (75 yards), Kyle Norwood and Josh Lee in the victory. Paul Reed punched in a two-point conversion to cap the score at 20-6.

“We were pretty determined, and our backs broke a lot of tackles for us,” said Stevenson. “We had a lot of good runs.

The Lions played defending league champions the Elkton, Md., Saints (4-0 and 141 points scored) and Norfolk, Va., Chiefs (3-1) thus far. Though they lost both games, Stevenson is certain that his team is ready to take on anyone at this point.

“They left the Elkton game feeling pretty good,” he said. “They played with those guys for the whole second half and it got their confidence up. They realized they can play with anybody.”

“After the Elkton game they got an air to them,” added Shockley. “They believed they could. Before, they thought they were over their heads, but they realized they can win.”

The Saints scored most of their 31 points in the first quarter, but the Lions’ defense “stiffened up” and didn’t give up a point in the second half.

They’ve realized the mortality of man, like Rocky Balboa did in “Rocky IV.” The invincible Russian bled and Rocky eventually won. The same can be said for the Lions. They answered every bell and finally knocked out their first opponent. Now that they have the taste of blood, they’re hungry for more.

With two games remaining, Fenwick is still in the playoff hunt but must win out to have any hope of postseason glory. It will start with the Wicomico Dragons on Feb. 18.

The Dragons are currently tied with Fenwick at 1-3 but have allowed just over 30 more points than the Lions this season. Fenwick scored 28 points and the Dragons posted 34 thus far, so it should be a fairly even match-up. It will probably come down to who wants it more.