Indians to face Delmar for Henlopen South title
The Indian River High School football team had no problem getting past Seaford last Friday night in a 35-0 shutout that put them right where they wanted to be in the Henlopen South Conference.
The win marked their third consecutive of the season and fourth consecutive shutout against Seaford. The Blue Jays haven’t scored a point on IR since 2009. More importantly, it put them at 4-1 in the conference, with undefeated Delmar coming to town Friday, Nov. 1. The game could ultimately determine the Henlopen South conference champion.
Sophomore running back KiAnté Sturgis needed 73 yards to break the 1,000-yard mark on the season, but the Indians were so dominant early on that head coach Ray Steele opted to pull most of the starters in the first half, and Sturgis would only see six carries on the night.
“We thought they had done all they needed to do,” Steele explained of the decision to pull starters including Sturgis and senior quarterback Spencer Murray early in the game. “Our thinking was to keep everybody healthy for next Friday. We sprinkled a few starters in on the line, just to keep things honest, but at that point we thought we had things pretty well under control.”
Despite seeing limited playing time, Sturgis managed to get into the end zone twice in the first quarter alone. He put the Indians up 7-0 after a 5-yard scamper into the end zone and scored on a 50-yard punt return on the next possession, to make it 14-0 with more than five minutes still left in the first quarter. He finished with 53 yards on the ground and is now averaging more than 6 yards per carry, with 980 rush yards on the season.
Senior running back/safety Tim Roberts jumped in on the scoring action when Spencer Murray hit him with a quick dart over the middle that he took all the way back for a 47-yard score. Up 21-0, Murray found Roberts again in the second quarter for a 30-yard strike, to put the Indians up by 28. Roberts ended up with three receptions for 100 yards and two touchdowns and was utilized well in the slot.
Steele started filtering in some less experienced players with the four-touchdown lead, including sophomore running back Isaiah Morris, who got in the end zone from 10 yards out before the half ended, to make it 35-0. Morris would finish with 12 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown on the night.
“That’s the future. Experience on Friday nights is invaluable, because you can’t duplicate it in practice. It’s not like game speed. The more you can get that, the better you’re going to be in years to come,” Steele said, also emphasizing the significance of players including sophomore quarterback Jake Hudson, who ran the offense for the entire second half.
Hudson was one of three IR quarterbacks to take snaps in the game, replacing senior Colby Dean, who initially took over for Spencer Murray. On defense, Dean intercepted Seaford senior quarterback Jakeen Banks before Steele pulled him for the second half.
The real test for the Indians will come this Friday against Delmar, in the battle for the Henlopen South. The Wildcats are undefeated so far on the season, but they haven’t exactly been dominant in most of those wins. Last week, they narrowly escaped, 21-20, their matchup against Laurel, which is a team that the Indians commanded easily on the Homecoming night, 46-14. Delmar also has yet to face Woodbridge, which is the only other team left in contention for the South title.
Despite the circumstances, Steele said he won’t be doing anything different in practice this week.
“It’ll be business as usual,” he claimed. “Since Week one, they’ve been very, very focused. I think we’re getting better each week.”
What is likely to be the Indians’ biggest game of the season will kick off at 7:30 p.m., under the lights at Indian River’s football stadium this Friday night, Nov. 1.