The Sussex County Sports Crystal Ball: A look into 2014
Last week, we highlighted an incredibly successful 2013 sports year for all of Sussex County. So, naturally, we decided to borrow Editor Darin McCann’s crystal ball and make a few predictions for what the coming year may hold for Indian River High School and other local athletes.
After the ball drops on New Year’s Eve, the Indian River boys’ basketball squad will look to pick it up. They unexpectedly stumbled at the Governor’s Challenge this past weekend against a couple of unfamiliar Maryland teams, but we predict they’ll be clicking on all cylinders when they begin conference play next week.
Point guard Brian Arthur will speed up the tempo of the offense and find Jaevon “B.B.” Holland under the net and Kei Juan “Skeeter” Major on the outside, to propel the Indians to the top of the “Henlopen hill” and have them challenging for the conference, paving their way for a ticket to the state playoffs.
“It’s ‘Bob’ or bust,” stated Head Coach Mike Fabber of his expectations for a bid to the “Elite 8” at the Bob Carpenter Center.
The Indians wrestling squad will also challenge for a state title on the mats, as usual.
As the temperatures heat up in the spring, so will the swells, as local surfers shed their hoods and gloves and charge the heavy breaks along the Delaware coast. Pro bodyboarder Brian Stoehr will keep launching bigger and bigger airs on the winch — and land yet another major photo sequence in a spring issue of Eastern Surf magazine.
The Indian River lacrosse team will look to build upon the success of the their first-ever season at the varsity level, with returning starters including defenseman Joost Elling, attackman H.F. Wilgus and midfielder Tim Roberts leading the charge.
While the program is still a few years away from being able to challenge larger and more experienced schools, such as Cape Henlopen, they’ll hang with most of the other Henlopen schools and tally more wins than they did last year.
On the diamond, seniors Karlie Smith and Rachel Hudson will lead the Indian River softball team back to the state playoffs this year, but this time they won’t fall in the first round.
After leading the boys’ soccer team to a state title, Coach Steve Kilby will look to do the same for the girls’ squad in the spring. The team will return captains Sarah Buchler, Meredith Mitchell, Alex Myers and Christinia Diakos — and, according to Kilby, the roster is one of the strongest that he’s seen in years.
“This team looks to be perhaps the most successful team since 2011,” he explained. “Expectations should be high for these girls. Their first objective will be to reclaim the Southern Division title, which has escaped them the last two seasons.”
When school lets out in the summer, the Atlantic swells will die down, but the Bethany Skim Jam will ramp up. The Indians will produce at least two players in June’s Blue-Gold game, with safety Tim Roberts, center Joost Elling, fullback H.F. Wilgus and others drawing serious consideration. The Little League Softball World Series will also be back in Roxana in August, and Delaware will again produce a few teams that will compete for the title.
The state champion Indian River soccer team will return to school in September — without leaders including Sam Izzo and Sam Cannon — but that won’t stop Kilby and All-State rising senior Luis Cruz from repeating as Division II State Champions. Kilby will look to replace nine starters with rising stars, including now-freshman Mac Smith, to begin a Salesianum-type run, where a state title becomes an expectation.
“The positive thing is that the cupboard is not bare,” he explained of how he expects to fill the void left by his graduating seniors. “The team returns a multitude of talented underclassmen. First and foremost, Ian Walls looks to fill the void left by Sam Cannon. Ian is an exceptional talent and will step right into the net without missing a beat.
“This will continue the legacy of outstanding goalkeepers Indian River has had the last 10 years, starting with Sean Lewis, Kevin Rowe, Sam Cannon, and now Ian. Indian River has had the luxury of three All-State goalkeepers in a row, and expect that Ian will continue that tradition.”
Rick Hundley and Seashore Striders will see even more success for the third annual Bethany Beach First Responders Triathlon in September — and in my least bold prediction for the year, Lance Fargo will win the Clydesdale division... again.
On the gridiron, Coach Ray Steele and the Indian River football squad will challenge for a fourth consecutive Henlopen South title behind star running back KiAnté Sturgis. Sturgis will build upon his break-out sophomore season and become even more pertinent to the Indian offense as he rushes for more than 1,500 yards and puts himself deservingly on the map with an All-State selection.
Rising junior quarterback Jake Hudson will fill the void left at quarterback by the departing Spencer Murray, and Shaquille Hall will look to replace the all-but-irreplaceable Tim Roberts at both safety and wingback.
Rising senior Kei Juan Major will continue his stellar play in the secondary and see an increased role on offense as another potential candidate to fill in for Roberts in the wingback role. The offensive line will miss both the leadership and authentic Dutch caramel waffle cookies provided by graduating center Joost Elling.
Our photographer R. Chris Clark will make history when he gets an invite to play in Indian River’s annual Powder Puff football game between the junior and senior girls. He will play for the seniors.
Head field hockey coach Jodi Stone will garner some attention next fall, as the new attitude and adjustments implemented last year begin to produce results in the win column.
As fall charges on, Colin Herlihy and the rest of the Backwoods Crew will charge hurricane season — which, we can only hope, will provide the Delaware coast with some bigger swells than it did in 2013, but less danger and damage than Sandy offered in 2012.
As the stripers make their way down the coast, we approach basketball season full circle, wherein the Indians will look to replace forward Jaevon “B.B.” Holland and point guard Brian Arthur. Then-rising junior KiAnté Sturgis will join his brother Kei Juan Major in the starting lineup — and Shaq Hall will run point for Arthur as the Indians challenge for the Henlopen conference under Fabber, yet again.
By the end of the year, Indian River athletic director Todd Fuhrman will finally give our staff reporter Laura Walter an exclusive interview, and more than likely he’ll add another athletic program at the school that will be destined for success.
Some of these predictions may be bold, and some of them may be inevitable — but if the 2014 sports year unfolds even half as successfully as it did in 2013, Sussex County sports fans are in for quite the show.