Smyrna soars past Senators to claim DIAA Class 3A state title

By Andy Walter
Posted 12/10/22

NEWARK — The last time they left this field, Smyrna High’s football players were emotionally crushed.

But the scene on Saturday evening couldn’t have been more different.

This …

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Smyrna soars past Senators to claim DIAA Class 3A state title


NEWARK — The last time they left this field, Smyrna High’s football players were emotionally crushed.

But the scene on Saturday evening couldn’t have been more different.

This time, the Eagles were jubilant, hugging each other, waving flags and posing for photos shortly after the final horn sounded.

Top-seeded Smyrna left no doubt this time, running away to a 52-7 victory over No. 6 Dover in the DIAA Class 3A state championship game at Delaware Stadium.

In winning the program’s fourth football state crown — all which have come since 2015 — the Eagles washed away some of the bitterness of last season’s six-point loss to Middletown in the state finals. The title was Smyrna’s first since 2017.

Senior receiver Yamir Knight caught a touchdown pass, ran for two and threw for another.

“It feels so good to run it back one more time with my teammates,” he said. “The feeling is great.

“I feel like we were counted out all year. We had a huge chip on our shoulder — especially because of last year’s loss.”

“We were here last year and lost a heartbreaker,” said Smyrna coach Mike Judy. “I was telling the guys — and we all kind of agree — it just kind of scars your soul when you go through something like that.

“I’m just really proud of them. I’m really proud that they got the opportunity. The confidence in these kids, the way they played the postseason, it was going to be really hard to stop us.”

The Eagles won their three state tournament games by an overwhelming total of 150-7.

The 52 points were the second-most scored in a Delaware football state final. Hodgson beat Middletown 54-31 for the Division I state championship in 2019.

The contest was actually scoreless after the first quarter. And when receiver John Parker pulled in a 14-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nahseem Cosme with 5:03 left in the second quarter, the Senators (8-5) trailed just 12-7.

But that was enough time for the Eagles to score twice and stretch their lead to 28-7 by halftime.

When Smyrna recovered a pair of squib kickoffs that bounced off Dover players to start the third quarter, it quickly turned both turnovers into touchdowns and the rout was on. The game went to a running clock with 6:34 left in the third quarter.

The Eagles finished with a decisive 390-99 advantage in total yards and a 19-8 edge in first downs.

Quarterback Brian Wright completed 16-of-24 passes for 226 yards with a pair of TDs for Smyrna (12-1), which finished the game on a 10-game winning streak. Markell Holman ran for 113 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.

The contest marked the first time that two Kent County squads played in a football state championship game.

Smyrna clearly came a long way from the second game of the season when it dropped a 21-14 loss to Middletown. But the Eagles didn’t lose again.

“Everybody was doubting us in the beginning,” said senior center Evan Blaeuer. “But I’m just so happy I could be here and win it with my boys. It still doesn’t feel real.

“After that Middletown game, I just felt us climbing the ladder, getting better and better. And we won it all. It’s just amazing.”

“From week one to where we are now, it’s just amazing,” Wright agreed. “I can’t believe how our guys have gelled and become one. There’s no offense-defense — we’re all one team. We all have each other’s backs. That’s what helped us to climb so quickly and get to this point.

“That stop (by Dover) kind of struck us a little bit. But then we got going and we never stopped.”

Judy, a Dover grad, has been Smyrna’s coach for all four of its state titles. As every coach knows, every season is a little different.

“They’re all special,” Judy said about the four state championships. “But this particular group, I think a lot of people wrote us off early. We had some talent but we had some young guys in some spots.

“Man, they never listened to any of it. They’re the epitome of keeping your nose down and working. I’m super proud of them.”

Extra points

Nolan Fretz had seven receptions for 99 yards and a TD for Smyrna while Knight caught four passes for 71 yards. ... Brandon West had a game-high nine tackles. ... The Senators’ Cosme completed 6-of-10 passes for 60 yards. Parker had all six of the receptions. ... Tyron Abrams ran for 20 yards on seven carries. ... Dover was playing without standout running back/linebacker Jakwon Kilby, who was sidelined by a leg injury he suffered two weeks ago. ... Linebacker Tysean Milligan had a team-high eight tackles for the Senators. ... The Dover-Smyrna series is now tied 9-9 since the Eagles moved up to Division I in 2007.

Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at Follow on Twitter at @DSNSports.

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