NEWARK — The last time Alajuwon Hunter’s extended family came to one of his games, he recorded 19 tackles.
Hunter is thinking of ways for an encore on Saturday.
There’s a plane full of about 25 relatives coming up from Miami, his former home, this week to watch the Smyrna High linebacker in the Blue-Gold senior All-Star football game at Delaware Stadium (7 p.m.).
“I got to show out for them,” Hunter said.
Hunter isn’t the only Smyrna linebacker who will be suiting up for the Gold squad.
Cody Biddle will take his place next to Hunter on defense. Biddle was a first team All-Henlopen Conference Northern Division selection this past season and made third team All-State.
Smyrna coach Mike Judy is also a coach for the Gold and is relishing the opportunity to spend another week with the duo.
“I really care for both those young men like they’re part of my family,” Judy said. “This is one more guaranteed game that I get to spend with them. That’s a blessing.”
Hunter and Biddle helped oversee a turnaround for Smyrna who went 5-5 for its highest win total since 2011.
They didn’t win a lot of games until this past year, but Biddle says his career was worth it.
“I wouldn’t change a thing about it,” Biddle said. “We didn’t have the most successful years, but it taught me how to be a man and how to work hard. Seeing where things are going now, and to play a part in that, it’s awesome.”
The Eagles were young last season. They didn’t have a single senior who started on offense, so Hunter and Biddle each had to take on a leadership role in Judy’s first year as coach.
The results showed on the field. Biddle led Smyrna with 131 tackles and Hunter had 117 on the season.
“Cody is like my brother,” Hunter said. “Every day in practice we would compete against each other, like, ‘Hey, you got to make this tackle.’ We were trying to make each other better. Always next to him, if he was inside, I was outside. Us two together, we were unstoppable.”
“With the amount of stuff those guys went through, to finish on a high note, they exceeded expectations,” Judy said. “They left a legacy. That’s something we always talk about — leave it better than you found it. They did that for sure.”
Biddle called the opportunity to play in the 60th annual Blue-Gold game a “dream come true.”
Hunter, who moved to Smyrna from Miami before his freshman season, agreed with that sentiment.
“This is everything I dreamed of,” Hunter said. “When I came from Miami, I heard about this and I was like, ‘I want to play in that, I want to be a superstar.’ They treat you right here, it’s like you’re in college or the NFL.”