Win at Woodbridge puts Indians in the driver’s seat for Henlopen South
Despite what some local media outlets were predicting last week, the Indian River High School football team never even trailed Woodbridge last Friday night in a hard-hitting Henlopen South slugfest, pulling off a 17-7 road win. The Indians forced four turnovers on the night to thwart the Blue Raiders’ homecoming celebration and regain control of their own destiny for the division title.
“Turnovers were key, I thought, the whole night,” said head coach Ray Steele of his team’s defensive performance. “[Tim Roberts] has done that all year for us. Mike Norton is a great defensive coach. The whole defense stepped up.”
Senior Spencer Murray returned at quarterback for IR and managed the offense well, running over Woodbridge defenders behind a strong push from the offensive line on a keeper up the middle for the game’s first score. Murray ran for 159 yards on the night.
Up 7-0, the Indians had a chance to burgeon their lead on 4th-and-3 from the 4-yard line, but Murray and sophomore running back KiAnté Sturgis failed to connect in the end zone, and the Blue Raiders took over on downs.
Woodbridge got on the board in the second quarter, when senior defensive lineman Shedrick Rayford scooped up a fumbled Indians snap and took it 75 yards for a score to tie the game at seven.
IR held Woodbridge scoreless for the rest of the night, however, forcing four turnovers — including an unprecedented three interceptions by senior safety Tim Roberts. Roberts now has six interceptions on the season, which leads the team and makes him tied for eighth in the nation, according to Max Preps.
Sturgis looked unstoppable on the ground, breaking multiple runs into the secondary and setting up another Murray goal-line touchdown up the gut, to make it 14-7 Indians in the second quarter. Sturgis ripped off a 70-yard run after a missed Woodbridge field goal, to set up senior kicker Sam Izzo for a 33-yard attempt before halftime. As usual, “Mr. Automatic” nailed it, and the Indians went into the half up 17-7.
The second half was a scoreless but hard-hitting affair. Frustrated with their inability to manufacture points, the Blue Raiders started racking up personal-foul penalties. Strugis was shaken up after a late hit that wasn’t called and left the game in the fourth quarter.
Despite not playing the entire game, the sophomore tailback was still able to rush for a career-high 200 yards and now has 927 yards on the season. He’s now averaging nearly 6 yards per carry — just 73 yards shy of eclipsing the 1,000 career-yard mark with three regular season games left to play. According to Steele, he isn’t expected to miss any time as a result of the early departure from last week’s game.
“He’s going to be alright. He just took a hard shot on the ground,” Steele explained.
Both teams now sit at 3-1 in the Henlopen South and still have to face an undefeated Delmar squad, but Indian River possesses the tiebreaker nod with the head-to-head win and can clinch the division if they can win out in conference play.
The Delmar matchup is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 1, but, first, the Indians will have to get past Seaford this Friday, Oct. 25, to stay in contention. Coming off a loss to previously winless Milford and currently sitting at 3-4 on the season, the Blue Jays aren’t expected to poise much of a threat to Indian River’s championship run. In fact, IR has shut out Seaford for the past three years, by a combined score of 128-0.
“If we beat Seaford, it comes down to us and Delmar,” Steele said, looking ahead at the upcoming schedule. “We’ve got to take care of business the next three weeks.”