The Smyrna High School football team has been on a uphill climb the past few year’s in an effort to finish the season with a winning record. While success hasn’t happened over night, the team has progressively improved from 2-8 in the 2009-2010 campaign to 5-5 last year.
Head coach Clay Lloyd hopes to continue this upward movement this season and expects to be competitive in a tough Henlopen North. And the players on the team are excited for the season, which will see a lot of fresh faces on varsity.
“They’re very excited about what the future holds,” Lloyd said. “We’re really hoping that first time up they’re going to really respond well to the lights on Friday night and step up their game and help lead us to victories on the field.”
Up first for the Eagles is their rivalry game against Middletown in the Harvest Bowl on Friday, Sept. 7. The Harvest Bowl was started in the ‘80s as a battle for local bragging rights between the two local teams. Discontinued 11 years ago, the tradition was started again in 2009.
A game full of emotion
While the first game of the season is Friday, the Smyrna High football team has been preparing for weeks. They’ll surely hit the ground running against Middletown.
Lloyd said the team feels good about the game and just really good in general about the opening of the season: “We try to talk about how one game does not make a season either way, win or lose.”
Middletown is a successful program that has been in the state finals the past two years, Lloyd said. But with that said, his team has been very competitive the last two years. Typically rivalry games are played at the end of the season, instead of as the season opener. Therefore, not only is there added emotion to the Harvest Bowl but Lloyd said it’s difficult to measure how good either team is at this point.
“We just hope to be competitive. We hope to be the best we can and let the scoreboard figure itself out,” he said.
For senior tight end and captain Ameer Watson, he thinks the Eagles will do awesome against Middletown: “We’re going to bring war. We’re going to battle…nothing more, nothing less.”
Preparing for kickoff
Led by quarterback Jordan Kiger, Lloyd feels one of the strengths of this year’s Eagles football team is the offensive line. With players like offensive tackle Darren Helwig, who was named third team all-state last year, returning the team will put their focus on running the football at first and then balance things out.
“We’re excited about our quarterback and receiver situation. Even the guys we have backing some people up we feel very comfortable with,” Lloyd said. “I think we’re going to be able to do both running the ball and throwing it.”
Watson believes his team does everything well because they work at every aspect of everything they do. While the team needs to work on their cohesiveness, Watson said their ability to execute will be a big factor this season.
“We have the talent,” Watson said. “All we need to do is execute and do everything that we need to do as an individual than we’ll come together. If we do everything as an individual, then we’ll come together as a team and be successful.”
Email Jennifer Dailey at firstname.lastname@example.org.