The best plays from Fall 2016
What… a… season.
While the 2016 fall sports calendar may not have shaken out as planned for a few teams at Indian River High School, this one has certainly been one for the record books for the Tribe.
Sudden weather lifts Tower Hill over IR in state title game
It was very much like a scene out of “Twister.”
The clouds swept over ominously during the singing of the national anthem. The winds began to gently rattle nets and backdrops during a moment of silence before the opening draw. Then, out of nowhere, the world began to howl.
By the opening whistle, all that was missing was the flying cow — although, considering the circumstances, some Indian River fans would go on to mutter something metaphorical about pigs taking flight.
Facing the wrong direction against wind gusts clocked between 30 and, in some cases, up to 50 mph to start the DIAA Division II state championship game on Saturday, Nov. 19, the Indian River High School soccer team saw their title hopes whisked away with that wind, as No. 3 Tower Hill took full advantage of the early aid and drained four first-half goals, to go on to an eventual 4-2 victory.
“There was no wind during warm-ups,” said IR head coach Steve Kilby after the game. “As soon as they blew the whistle, it started, so nobody knew what was going on at that point.”
The Slam Dunk to the Beach basketball tournament is back for the third year after its resurrection, and it’s bringing the game’s brightest future stars from across the nation with it.
The Delaware Youth Soccer Association (DYSA) announced this week that long-time Indian River High School and River Soccer Club coach Howard Gerken will be honored this January as the DYSA TOPSoccer Coach of the Year.
“Howard is a leader in every sense of the word,” said River Soccer Club President Rebecca Mais. “He does it so smoothly you don’t even know what just happened and he’s got things done. But the greatest gift of all is Howard’s real caring and love of other people.”
TOPSoccer is short for “The Outreach Program for Soccer,” a program designed for players with special needs.
Not only did Gerken help pioneer that program but also the River Soccer Club as it’s known today, holding practices at area schools before the club found its home at the River Soccer complex along Gum Road near Frankford.
IR’s Cordoba named NSCAA Regional All-American
Only three players from each region are selected by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) as All-Americans, and this year, Indian River High School senior forward Johan Cordoba is one of them.
It was a Murphy’s Law kind of night for the Indian River High School soccer team, to say the least.
While it may be a little early for our “Tribe Top Five” and all the best sports moments from fall 2016, with the Indian River High School soccer team still keeping IR fall sports alive and playing for a shot at the state title, it’s never too early for our ‘Not Top 10” and all the best worst sports moments from the past season involving a certain Coastal Point sports reporter with an inclination toward run-on sentences and Mighty Ducks references.
At Coastal Point press time on Wednesday, Nov. 16, the Indian River High School soccer team was either headed to the DIAA state championship game, or they weren’t.
After a 1-0 win over Caravel on Saturday, Nov. 12, the No. 1-seeded Indians punched their ticket to the semi-final game against No. 12 St. Georges on Wednesday — needing a win to stay alive and earn a bid and a chance at a second-straight state title.
Coming off a second-straight Henlopen Conference championship and first-round bye, the Indians took on No. 9-seeded Caravel at Milford High School during last Saturday’s quarter-final match and managed to advance with a 1-0 victory.
The game’s lone goal came in the 40th minute, when senior forward Johan Cordoba finished a chance after a corner kick from senior midfielder Edgardo Velasquez.
Headed into the semi-final game on Wednesday, St. Georges was riding the upset with tournament wins over No. 5 Archmere and No. 4 Newark Charter.
For two teams in the same school district, the Indian River and Sussex Central High School football teams are having very different years. That difference was on display when the young and rebuilding Indians took on the seasoned Golden Knights on Friday, Nov. 11, with the Knights coasting to a 54-21 victory.
“They’re having a big year. We were playing a really good team, and we knew that coming into this,” said IR head coach Phill Townsend after the game.
“The good thing is our guys never gave up. That’s the thing about this team, is they never gave up all season — they always played through the whistle. You can’t coach that.”
It was all Central early on, when after recovering the opening kickoff, senior running back John Morris punched it in from 3 yards out to seal the opening drive and put the Knights up 7-0.
‘G-Mart’ first IR player to rush for 1,000 yards since 2013
The last time an Indian River High School running back pulled it off, George Martin was a freshman, watching from the sidelines when former IR tailback KiAnté Sturgis eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark in 2013.
Coming up through the program at Selbyville Middle School, Martin had seen Sturgis and 2013 IRHS grads Aaron Moore and Marquel Knight set the standard for what’s historically been a dominant rushing program at IR, with feature backs racking up 1,000-yard seasons year in and year out.
But it wasn’t until last Friday that “G-Mart” helped restore that tradition, when he ripped off a 59-yard touchdown run against Sussex Central to become the first player to break the barrier in three seasons.
“It was actually kind of funny — after that run, I hadn’t even been thinking about 1,000 yards,” Martin said. “I think Coach [Phil] Townsend came up to me while I was on a knee on the sidelines and told me. It didn’t really set in until after the game.”
After capping the game with 17 carries for 143 yards and two touchdowns, Martin capped his senior season with a total 196 carries for 1,114 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns. He also completed three of four passes this season, for 105 yards, returned a punt 45 yards for a touchdown and hauled in three receptions for 43 yards and a touchdown, while still contributing at safety on defense.
It started out as just a fun, family-friendly way to get out and enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday.
Fast-forward nine years, and upwards of 750 people turn out every Thanksgiving morning for the Fenwick Island Turkey Trot and what’s become a long-standing Fenwick Island tradition.
“People start emailing me in September,” said race director Lori Martin with a laugh, of the yearly anticipation.
“It’s definitely become a family tradition — which is what I envisioned from the beginning.”
Martin, who also runs Hip AHA Boot Camp, got the idea for that tradition while on vacation with her family in the Outer Banks. When she returned, she decided to bring the concept to Delaware, adding a few touches of her own and trying to make the concept more affordable for local families.
Haden headed for Blue-Gold All Star game
Indian River High School senior Lexi Haden has been selected to represent the Indians in this year’s Blue-Gold All Star field hockey game.
With the “fastest game on two feet” making its way through Sussex County, the Indian River School District Community Education program is offering local players a way to get involved early, with its upcoming lacrosse clinics.
While sessions for both boys and girls of all ages and skill levels will be offered by the Community Education program throughout the winter, things will get under way with the first clinic, starting Nov. 28.
Held at the G.W. Carver Academy in Frankford on Monday nights from Nov. 28 through Dec. 19, the initial clinic will be offered to girls at both the middle school and high school levels.
Former NCAA Division I standouts Kelsea Ayers and Maddy Hess will be teaming up to run the camp, helping players with passing, catching and cradling basics, stick work and advanced instruction in shooting, cutting and dodging.
Tripple Overtime: Can the NFL stop bogarting Instant Replay now because we could kind of use some for field hockey
As a journalist, you’re not allowed to have a rooting interest, specific team-wise, when you’re covering games or writing features or enduring presidential elections, or whatever else.
IR seniors bring home third HAC soccer title
Head coach Steve Kilby’s “short list” keeps getting shorter.
After checking off the first item on that list with a Henlopen Southern division championship, the Indian River High School boys’ soccer team checked off item number 2 with 3-0 win over Sussex Central in the Henlopen Conference Championship game on Monday, Nov. 7.
Despite the game’s convincing final, however, in the midst of one of their most successful seasons in recent history, the North champion Golden Knights challenged early on.
“We prepared for the pace that they play,” said Kilby of a fast-paced Sussex Central squad. “We focused on speed of play and attacking the flanks.”
The course at Killens Pond State Park was again the site of the Henlopen Conference Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Nov. 11, where 13 teams and more than 160 runners showed up to go toe to toe.
Among the competition were local schools including Indian River High School, Sussex Central, Sussex Academy and Sussex Tech, with Tech being edged by Caesar Rodney for the conference crown and Milford taking the title convincingly for the girls.
Top individual finishers from local programs included Tech senior Ben Bamforth who finished first overall for the boys’ with a time of 16:29.7. The Ravens saw one other top ten finisher on the day when Jairus Hinds clocked in at 17:24.1 for fourth place, and Tech Connor Morrow and Sussex Central’s Albert Norman each cracked the top twenty with times of 17:30.2 and 17:32.7, respectively.
The back of the net bounced. The stadium erupted. The celebration ensued.
With just over five minutes left to go, Indian River High School senior forward Madi McGee had knocked in a pass from senior forward Lexi Haden to tie the game against defending state-champion Cape Henlopen during the Indians’ first DIAA tournament appearance in exactly a decade.
Except that it didn’t count.
Understandably ecstatic after one of the game’s officials had indicated “goal,” the Indians were amidst hugs and high-fives when the game’s other official overruled — citing a whistle just seconds before McGee’s shot had a chance to stretch rope.
It was an all-too-familiar situation for the Indian River High School football team when Lake Forest came to town on Friday, Nov. 4.
Just like things had gone down facing Milford three weeks prior, a game that started with IR sophomore Jacob Anderson returning the opening kick off the length of the field for a touchdown and putting the Indians up 7-0 early, they would end up with giving up too many big plays of their own and earned an eventual division loss, this time falling to the Spartans 26-7.
“We gave up the big plays on defense and consistently made mistakes this year,” said head coach Phil Townsend after the game.
“Offensively we moved the ball but we just couldn’t finish. It goes back to what we’ve been battling all year, offensively we’re making the same mistakes — we’re fumbling the ball, we’re jumping offsides, we’re not holding our blocks.”
Coming off a tough loss to Lake Forest on their own senior night, the Indian River High School football team will be looking for redemption when they set out to spoil senior night for rival Sussex Central on Friday, Nov. 11.
The 6-3 Golden Knights have impending DIAA state tournament hopes on the line however, knocked out of Henlopen North title contention but still very much in the playoff conversation should they cap the season with a win.
They’re riding back to back wins headed into the game, rolling Polytech 49-14 on Friday, Oct. 28, and more recently, Dover 43-7, on Nov. 4.
This season they’ve been without former IR running back-turned-Central star KiAnte’ Sturgis but have more than filled the backfield void with senior running back Justin Jones and senior fullback Kendrique Nocks.
After cracking the starting lineup during the pre-season and going on to tally three goals and four assists for the Spiders during her freshman campaign, Indian River High School graduate Brooke Beam was voted by league head coaches last week to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team.
While the Spiders finished 9-9-1, and saw their A-10 Tournament chances spoiled after a 1-0 loss in overtime to VCU in their final game, Beam would become the only rookie in the conference to receive A-10 Rookie of the Week honors twice during the 2016 season.
Her first R.O.W. nod came in just her third career game, when the freshman forward managed her first career NCAA points on two assists during a 4-2 win over JMU on Aug. 26.
Then, in a matchup against Rhode Island on Oct. 9, she netted what would end up being the difference in a 2-1 win on a shot from 25 yards out, enough to earn her the honors again.
Overall, Beam finished fourth on the team in total scoring with 10 points this the season.
It was the game they had marked on their schedules all season.
Ever since getting edged by Millsboro on an Ansley Morrow goal just before the buzzer last fall, the Selbyville Middle School field hockey team had been ready for redemption in what’s become an anticipated annual rivalry.
But despite the wait, it didn’t take long for the Indians to cash in on that redemption when SMS eighth grade forward Kayler Townsend made her way through the Millsboro defense on a fast break and found herself one on one with the keeper just over two minutes after the opening whistle.
“Kayler’s one of the top scorers on our team. Once she’s gone and there’s no one around her — she’s gonna score,” said eighth grade defender and co-captain Savannah O’Shields of the goal that put the Indians up 1-0 early and on their way to an eventual 6-0 victory.
Moore goes for 22 yards in loss to Wesley
The Salisbury University football team lost their second game of the season on Saturday, Nov. 5, falling to Wesley College 44-27.
Indian River High School graduate and Salisbury senior Aaron Moore rushed for 22 yards on two carries in the matchup, also returning one kick for 19 yards.
Tripple Overtime: There’s a ‘Back to the Future’ Cubs’ conspiracy even though now technically the future is kind of the past
Theoretical physics. Rubik’s cubes. Where exactly “the Cloud” is. Whether Cobb’s totem stopped spinning or no at the end of the movie “Inception” featuring Jason Gordon-Levitz (“Snowden,” “Third Rock from the Sun”) and Leonardo DiCaprio (“What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?,” pretty much every Martin Scorsese movie ever made) and also the movie’s entire not-so-basic plot, too.
Mumford, Cannatelli leave legacy
Headed into the fifth and final set tied with Sussex Tech 2-2 on Thursday, Oct. 26, it finally dawned on Indian River High School senior middle hitter Sami Mumford: this could be the last volleyball set of her career.
“It just kind of hit me,” said Mumford of taking the court for what would end up being the final time in green and gold after getting some added motivation from the signature “Here we go!” call from her father, Todd Mumford, echoing throughout the gymnasium.
“It just really set in that this could be the last match I’ll ever play. I had to go all out because I didn’t want to have any regrets.”
After battling back from a 2-1 set deficit before taking the fourth set, 25-18, the Indians would go on to fall to the Ravens 15-13 in the fifth set and see their playoff hopes all but fade away.
It was a play that they had been through before.
In fact, during practice the previous day, Indian River High School head field hockey coach Jodi Stone and assistant coach Molly Chamberlin had their squad going through it for nearly an hour straight.
But practice made perfect when the Indians hosted Dover on Saturday, Oct. 29, and when freshman midfielder Kaylee “K-Hall” Hall made her way down the field and through three Dover defenders late in the second half, setting up the exact same play they had been working on the day previous.
After breaking free of blue jerseys, Hall would drove a pass towards the front of the cage where senior forward Madi McGee and Rylie Cordrey were waiting for their chance, and Cordrey knocked in the shot on the back door before the Dover keeper could get to the post to put the Indians up 1-0 on what would eventually end up the game-winner.
“The goal was just a textbook play — we practiced break-a-ways for a solid hour in practice yesterday,” said Chamberlin after the game. “K-Hall dribbled down, Madi knew to run right to goal — she was there to stop it before the goalie did and Rylie one-touched it in.”
Facing their third straight undefeated Henlopen South opponent, the Indian River High School football team dropped their third straight Henlopen South game in a 47-28 loss to Delmar on Friday, Oct. 28.
After falling behind 6-0 on an 11-yard touchdown run from Delmar junior running back Brooks Parker in the first quarter, the Indians would tie the game on a 4-yard touchdown run from their own bell-cow, senior running back George “G-Mart” Martin, before senior kicker Andrew White’s extra point gave IR a 7-6 advantage.
That would be the Indians’ only lead of the game after another touchdown run from Parker in the second quarter — this time from 5 yards out — and a seven yard touchdown through the air from senior quarterback Jimmy Adkins to senior running back Isaac Austin just before the break.
Martin would go on to finish with a career day, running for three more touchdowns in the second half on his way to a 200-yard, four-touchdown performance on 33 carries.
Brotherhood bigger than size for IR offensive line
Averaging out at just under 6-feet tall, 220-pounds, you might deem the offensive line for the Indian River High School football team as slightly “undersized.”
Since the start of the season, they’ve consistently gone up against lineman tipping the scales at weights more typically seen at the NFL Scouting Combine, facing all 300-pounds of Cape Henlopen DT Robert Mitchell and Woodbridge senior DT Brian Ireland, among others.
At 245-pounds, even Cape junior running back Kolbi Wright packs on more poundage than nearly every IR starting lineman aside from junior tackle Cortez Tull.
But for “The Thin Green Line” of senior left tackle Griffin McCormick, senior left guard Michael Cedano, junior center Michael Corcoran, senior right guard Zion Howard, and Tull at right tackle, size doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to production.
“We’re a family,” Corcoran, who at 6-foot-2, 240-pounds touts the unit’s largest frame after Tull at 6-foot-2, 260-pounds, tried to explain their success. “We’re a unit. We’re not five individuals — we’re one unit.”
Beam caps freshman campaign, Spiders miss out on A-10 Tournament
The Richmond Spiders women’s soccer team wrapped up their 2016 season at 9-9-1 overall and 4-6 in the Atlantic 10 Conference, after a 3-1 win over St. Bonaventure on Thursday, Oct. 27, and 1-0 loss in overtime to VCU on Sunday, Oct. 30.
Local pickleball patriarch and “Ocean View Crew” frontman Vaughn “The Baron” Baker will lead a Pickleball Paddle Clinic at Sports at the Beach in Georgetown on Saturday, Nov. 12.
A session at 4 p.m. and another beginning at 6 p.m. will be offered, with each limited to 24 participants and costing $5 to sign up. Proceeds from the event will be donated to the First State Pickleball Club.
It’s a phrase often used by Indian River High School head soccer coach Steve Kilby when one of his teams is approaching the playoffs.
It’s also the case as the Indians gear up for a rematch against Sussex Central and a chance at a second consecutive Henlopen Conference title on Monday, Nov. 7.
Despite back to back losses last week, the Indians still look to be “trending upwards” after getting edged by Division 1 powerhouse Charter School (11-2-1) on a penalty kick on Saturday, Oct. 29, and then falling to nationally-ranked Salesianum (13-1-1) on yet another game-deciding penalty kick in overtime on Tuesday, Nov. 1.