The Eagles, seeded second in the Division I high school football tournament, will host third-seeded Hodgson Saturday, Nov. 25 at 7 p.m. in the semifinals, according to the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association.

This Saturday, Nov. 25, the two-time defending state champion Smyrna Eagles will take another step towards their third straight Delaware high school football Division I title.

Smyrna, seeded second in the tournament, will host third seeded Hodgson at Charles V. Williams Stadium at 7 p.m.

This season, the Eagles showed it’s not how you start but how you finish that matters.

Smyrna opened the schedule with two straight losses, but went on to win eight straight games to earn a first-round bye in the state tournament.

A battle of equals?

The mascot of both Smyrna and Hodgson is the eagle, and the teams also share several other similarities this season.

Both teams finished 8-2 and had eight-game winning streaks.

Hodsgon lost its first game to Sussex Central, then won eight in a row before losing to Middletown 21-7. Middletown also defeated Smyrna, 35-28, but in the season opener.

In the first round of the state tournament, Hodgson knocked off sixth-seeded Caesar Rodney 13-0. Smyrna defeated CR in the regular season by 17 points, 54-37.

On paper, Smyrna has the advantage on offense, averaging 41.4 points per game to Hodgson’s 29.2 points; however, Hodgson’s total is still third in Division I behind just Smyrna and Middletown (37.7). Hodgson’s offense was powered the majority of the year by a three-pronged running attack featuring Sea’Queris Wiggins, Darius Hale and Nahzir Billops.

Hodgson’s advantage, again on paper, is its defense, which allowed only 9.6 points per game during the regular season. In Division I, only Middletown allowed fewer points, 7.8 per game.

Smyrna allowed an average of 20.1 points per game; however, a big chunk of those points were surrendered in the two losses at the start of the season, 35 to Middletown and 38 to Franklin, Maryland. During Smyrna’s eight-game winning streak, the team allowed an average of 16 points per game. In the team’s last three games, it allowed 11 to Sussex Tech, 7 to Salesianum, and shut out Polytech.

As far as the teams’ record against the same opponents, Smyrna holds the edge. Both Smyrna and Hodgson lost to Middletown, and both teams defeated Caesar Rodney. But Hodgson lost to Sussex Central 20-7 in the first game of the season, while Smyrna crushed the Knights 46-13 on Homecoming, Oct. 13.

If they win

If Smyrna wins Saturday, the Eagles will face the victor of the other semifinal game between Middletown and William Penn for the state championship at the University of Delaware Saturday, Dec. 2 at 1 p.m.

Middletown (10-0) is the top seed in Division I.

William Penn (7-4) is the fifth seed in the tournament. The Colonials defeated fourth seed Sussex Central 12-7 in the first round Friday.

Middletown defeated William Penn 29-0 in the regular season Sept. 16.