Tickets for the high school football state championships are available at Smyrna High School Friday, Dec. from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the main office and then from 5-8 p.m. in the main gym lobby during the girls basketball game.
The Smyrna High School football team defeated Hodgson 48-8 in the Division I state tournament semifinals Saturday at Charles V. Williams Stadium to advance to the state championship for the third year in a row.
The title game will be played Saturday, Dec. 2 at 1 p.m. at Delaware Stadium at the University of Delaware in Newark. The Eagles won the state championship for the first time in the team’s history in 2015, defeating Salesianum, and then defended their title in 2016 with a win over Middletown.
In this year’s championship, Smyrna will again face Middletown, the top seed in the tournament with an 11-0 record after a 21-13 semifinal win over fifth-seeded William Penn.
The Cavaliers defeated the Eagles in the season opener 35-28 at Middletown. Smyrna lost its next game to Franklin, Maryland but has now reeled off nine wins in a row, locking up its third straight Henlopen Conference Northern Division title, earning the second seed in the tournament, and now advancing to the championship game.
Smyrna head football coach Mike Judy said the Eagles are looking to be consistent in their practices this week.
“We will approach championship week as we approach every week – focus on getting better at our fundamentals and what we do as an offense, defense, and special teams; focus on blocking, tackling, alignment and assignment,” he said. “If you don't take care of these areas, it doesn't matter who your opponent is. You will suffer.”
He said playing Middletown last year in the title game and again at the start of this season has its advantages and disadvantages.
“As familiar as you are with them and what they do, they reap the same benefit, having played us before,” Judy said. “In the end, there will be some familiarity from both teams but both squads will need to be prepared for wrinkles.”
Judy said one of Middletown's strengths is quarterback Drew Fry.
“He's a great athlete. He can hurt you with his arm and his feet, and he has a stable of skill positions to get the ball to,” said Judy.
But the Cavaliers have loads of talent in the other facets of the game as well.
“Defensively they are tough, and they have a return man that can make you pay if you kick to him,” said Judy.
For Smyrna’s defense, senior Hunter Moyer has been one of the keys to Smyrna’s success, and he made several big plays in the Eagles’ win over Hodgson Saturday. On a crucial series in the second quarter with Hodgson driving for a score, trailing just 16-8, Moyer sacked the quarterback on third down. Then on fourth down, when the quarterback scrambled, Moyer chased him down and during the tackle, forced a fumble which Smyrna recovered. Later in the quarter, Moyer and Tristan Friel sacked the quarterback again to help seal the Eagles’ 24-8 advantage at halftime.
Moyer explained the team’s strategy on defense.
“We rally to the ball on every play,” he said. “We’re very big on keeping our foot on the gas, no matter what the score is. Our mentality is never let up, never stop, keep grinding.”
Moyer said he’s looking forward to Saturday’s game and a third chance to win a state title.
“Three times in a row, that’s special. It’s going to be like a holiday, the most important day of the year,” he said.