In a season that many weren’t even sure would happen thanks to the pandemic known as COVID-19, the Indian River High School fall sports teams had impressive showings all around.
Some of those performances were recognized by coaches not just in the Henlopen Athletic Conference, but also throughout the state.
From the DIAA Division II boys soccer state championship team, the Indians were represented on the First Team All-State by a pair of seniors in Erick Aguilera Baruch and Willem Lambertson. Sophomore Jordan Illian was named to the Second Team, while seniors Jax Cathell and Bastian Perry were named to the Third Team.
Head coach Steve Kilby was thrilled for the honors for Aguilera Baruch and Lambertson, but felt that his fellow conference coaches “grossly misrepresented” Illian, which led to him being left off the All-State First Team.
“Willem and Erick have been contributing all four years of their high school career, and it was nice to see them get recognized,” Kilby said. “(Jordan) was grossly misrepresented in our conference (division) voting, and his performance in the state playoffs reinforced how poorly the coaches in our conference (division) represented him.”
Illian scored both goals in the Indians’ 2-1 win over Newark Charter to lead IR to the program’s third state championship. He also scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Sussex Academy. For the season, Illian had 19 goals and 13 assists.
The South Division coaches voted to make Delmar’s Mason Ball the division’s Player of the Year. By comparison, Ball scored 18 goals with just 3 assists. He was shutout over the Wildcats’ final four games, which included losses to IR (8-0), Sussex Academy (7-1), Sussex Central (1-0), and the first round of the state playoffs to Caravel (7-0). Thirteen of his goals came in wins over Laurel, Seaford, Polytech, and Lake Forest, which had a combined win-loss record of 11-34-1.
Take those four games out of the comparison, and Ball is left with 5 goals and 3 assists over seven games for the Wildcats, who finished their season at 5-7 overall. When you break it down by the numbers, clearly Illian was - without a shadow of a doubt - “grossly misrepresented” by the South Division coaches.
With regards to those South Division All-Conference honors, Aguilera Baruch, Lambertson, and Illian were joined on the First Team by teammates Jax Cathell, Josh Bird, and Bastian Perry.
Seniors Eddie Mochiam, Arturo Cruz Bonilla, and Michael Peterson along with sophomore Evan Peterson were named to the All-Conference Second Team with junior Blake Morgan earning Honorable Mention.
For cross country, freshman Brynn Crandell and senior Declan Burke were named to the All-State teams for girls and boys, respectively, by way of earning medals at the DIAA Division II State Championship meet.
Crandell was named to the Henlopen Conference First Team, while Burke and R.J. Senseny were recognized on the Second Team with Benjamin Spencer being named to the Honorable Mention list.
Indian River field hockey players were also well represented with the All-Conference recognition. Juniors Brynn McCabe and Emma Ruley both were named to the South Division First Team. Seniors Jessica Rybicki, Morgan McGee, and Allyson Clark were voted to the South Division Second Team, while senior Savannah O’Shields was Honorable Mention.
Finally, the All-Conference awards also were bestowed upon some of the Indians football players as well.
On the South Division First Team, IR was represented by seniors Lucas Weber (tight end) and River Vickers (kicker). Junior TJ Burke was named twice to the First Team as an offensive guard as well as a defensive lineman. Sophomore Ashton Stephens made the First Team as a defensive end.
On the Second Team, Vickers was named as a punter, while senior Reagan Dunn made it as a linebacker. Sophomore Hayden Hall’s efforts in the secondary landed him on the Second Team as a defensive back.
Junior Jack Williamson - the Indians’ leading tackler on defense this season - received Honorable Mention recognition.