The mark of a true championship caliber team is how one responds to adversity and in the case of the Smyrna Eagles, the state’s three-time defending state champions, adversity is at their doorstep after beginning the 2018 season with two-straight losses.
After falling in their season opener against Middletown in this year’s Harvest Bowl, the Eagles traveled to take on Franklin High School in week two. Franklin, a tough program out of Maryland that’s posted a winning record each of the last 12 seasons, was too much for the Eagles, defeating Smyrna 28-14.
While starting off the season with two-straight losses isn’t ideal, the Eagles have been here before.
“Being 0-2 in the past, there’s no panic,” said Smyrna Head Coach Mike Judy. “When you play good teams, this is a possible outcome that your program must accept.”
Last season, the Eagles began the year dropping their first two games of the season to the exact same opponents in Middletown and Franklin. Smyrna responded winning eight straight regular season games before a third-straight championship run.
With their 0-2 mark starring them in the face, Judy says he and his team are well aware of what they need to do to turn things around.
“The kids and staff must continue to focus on improving from within, not worrying about who you are playing but truly attending to improving fundamentally as a player, unit and team,” Judy said.
On Friday night the Eagles will take on another Henlopen North Division team looking for their first win of the season, the Cape Henlopen Vikings.
Cape Henlopen enters this week’s contest having dropped their first three games of the season. They opened the year falling to defending Division II state champion Delmar, before losing their next two games against out-of-state opponents, Suitland High (Md.) and Northeast High (Md.)
In Cape’s losses to Delmar and Suitland, they were outscored 97-27 before losing a close one last week, 21-13.
Going up against a struggling Cape Henlopen squad gives the Eagles a chance to not only get their first win of the season, but swing the momentum with the bulk of their conference schedule ahead, including matchups against undefeated Dover along with Caesar Rodney and Sussex Central.
However, the Eagles aren’t looking beyond the Vikings, as they know a team with its back against the wall can be dangerous.
“To beat Cape we must avoid self-inflicted wounds, play 48 minutes of high velocity football and be sound fundamentally,” Judy said. “They will be just as hungry as we are for a win and we must be prepared to on the road and play a full four quarters of good football.”
The Eagles will clash with the Vikings Friday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m.