DOVER, Del. – The Smyrna Eagles are headed to play in the Delaware D-1 Semifinals against William Penn on Saturday, Nov. 28. The Woodbridge Blue Raiders will play in the D-2 Semifinals on the same day against St. Georges.
The Eagles are having an historic season under head coach Mike Judy. Besides winning the Henlopen North for the first time since 1969, the Eagles have now survived quarterfinals to make their first semifinal appearance.
The William Penn defense is big and physical and has held opposing offenses to an average of 12.3 points per game this season.
“We just have to play our game,” Smyrna linebacker Rodney Ruff said. “From the opening kickoff, we have to come out and play physical.”
Ruff is aware of the size difference but believes in the secondary’s nickname, “the finesse defense.”
“We are small but we have a lot of speed,” Ruff said.”
William Penn is ranked second in Delaware and Smyrna has the third seed. Both teams only have one loss on their records, respectively.
“I told my guys that you cannot afford to lose a single rep this week or take a play off,” Judy said. “If we lose this is it, so we have to leave it all on the field.”
Eagles junior quarterback Nolan Henderson believes that the difference will be seen in whatever team prepares more. That’s why he and his team are religiously studying film in and out of practice.
“We’re going to have to play pretty good to beat them,” Henderson said. “It’s going to take all three phases.”
Woodbridge is the surprise team this year. The Blue Raiders finished the regular season at 7-3. Not too shabby.
The seventh seed team knocked out Delaware Military Academy, who were ranked at No. 2.
Blue Raiders wide receiver Bragg Davis grabbed the game-winner to advance his team.
“It felt amazing. He [freshman quarterback Troy Haynes] threw the ball high enough and I just caught it” David said with a big smile.
Head Coach Ed Manlove is sticking to the script that got them this far. His players will study film and play their game.
St. Georges and Woodbridge met two years ago in the semifinals, when Davis was a sophomore. The Hawks came out on top. Woodbridge wants their redemption, especially Davis.
“We played in the regular season quiet a few times over the years,” Manlove said. “We’ve won a couple, they’ve won a couple so it’s been back and forth. They’re a lot stronger now than they were in the past. We’re trying to climb the top of that mountain so they only way we are going to get there is to beat them.”
Woodbridge running back Le’ah Styles and Davis are in agreement that the difference in the game will be their offensive line.
Both teams will hit the road on Saturday for their 1 p.m. games.