The first time the Smyrna-Clayton Pop Warner Midgets played Milford this fall, the Lil’ Bucs came away with an 18-6 victory. But the teams would meet again on a bigger stage – in the championship game of the Henlopen Pop Warner tournament on Sunday, Nov. 15 at Wesley College. This time, Smyrna-Clayton put it all together when it mattered most, and the Eagles won 7-6.
The first time the Smyrna-Clayton Pop Warner Midgets played Milford this fall, the Lil’ Bucs came away with an 18-6 victory.
But the teams would meet again on a bigger stage – in the championship game of the Henlopen Pop Warner tournament on Sunday, Nov. 15 at Wesley College.
This time, the Smyrna-Clayton Eagles put it all together when it mattered most.
The key moment came about halfway through the fourth quarter, with the Eagles trailing 6-0. Smyrna-Clayton’s Marty Pipes took it into the end zone for the tying touchdown, and the Eagles lined up with a chance to pull ahead on the point after attempt. On a fake kick, Ashton Russell completed a pass to Blaine Dumire in the end zone. In Pop Warner, extra point kicks are worth two points, and conversions are good for one point.
From there, the Eagles held on to their one-point lead and secured a 7-6 victory over Milford, the tournament’s top seed.
Head coach Dave Price said Milford was able to make some big plays in the regular season game, but the Eagles embraced the underdog role when the teams met again in the championship game.
Coach Price said the Eagles got a boost from all the fans who went down to Dover to support the team.
“They were really into the game,” he said.
Price also mentioned that a Wesley student working as a ball boy on the sideline couldn’t believe how hard the boys were hitting.
Winning the Henlopen tournament was a perfect ending to the season for the Eagles, who entered the tournament with a 5-3 record, including a forfeit win.
Smyrna-Clayton’s record was good enough for the No. 2 seed and a first round bye in the tournament.
In the second round, the Eagles topped the Dover/CR Raiders 18-0 to advance to the title game.
Looking back on the season, Coach Price said that “one of the biggest things that helped the team was the attitude.”
Overall, there was very good attendance at practices and games, he said. In the end, that dedication paid off on the field.
Price said the Eagles also had strong leadership from the team captains: Ian Koska, Anthony Vega, Ashton Russell and Michael Vavala.
“They did a good job being captains,” Price said.
Team roster: Ryan Price, John Richardson, Ashton Russell, Jacob Davenport, Zach Reynolds, Eddie Kaiser, Anthony Vega, Jhi’el Watson, Aaron Wilson, Michael Vavala, Arshawon Brown, Marty Pipes, Brendan Cook, Daniel Gott, Mark Harris, Corey Jackson, Ian Koska, Charles Mitchell, Isaac Woten, Austin Hentz, Justin Bustillos, Jeffery Hennen, Jerry Williams, Alec Lowe-Smith, Brandon Mendez, Jaegar Schmid, Jordan Gould, Blaine Dumire and Jarren Wilson
Coaches: head coach Dave Price Sr. and assistant coaches Pat Ennis, Frank Fleetwood and Lee Shahan
Team Moms: Julie Price and Heather Kaiser
Pop Warner Midgets
Dover/CR Raiders W 13-0
Laurel Bulldogs L 36-8
Cape Sharks W 15-0
Laurel Bulldogs L 27-6
Sussex Central Knights W 32-6
Milford Lil’ Bucs L 18-6
Dover/CR Raiders W 22-6
Second round playoff game
Dover/CR Raiders W 18-0
Milford Lil’ Bucs W 7-6