Smyrna High to face Newark Charter Saturday, Dec. 1 in game that features players with and without disabilities competing together
For the second year in a row, the Smyrna High School unified flag football team has advanced to the state championship game at the University of Delaware.
Unified teams include players with and without disabilities together on the same team.
Last year, the Eagles advanced to the title game but lost to Newark Charter. This year, the unified team will again face Newark Charter for the title Saturday, Dec. 1 at approximately 3:30 p.m., after the Division I football championship between Salesianum and Sussex Central.
During the unified season, the Eagles went 5-1 in the regular season and then defeated Caesar Rodney 21-6 and Seaford 51-32 in the state tournament to advance to the finals.
Coach Andrew Mears said while the main goals of the team are to have fun and make friends, the players are looking forward to battling for the state title again at the University of Delaware.
“All the kids were so excited for each other because they remember how fun of an experience this was last year,” Mears said.
While the team doesn’t keep statistics, Mears said everyone’s role is important to the Eagles’ success.
“Brandon Clark plays both quarterback and receiver, and he made some key catches during the Seaford game,” said Mears. “Jacob Brock, Tommy Walker, Jakir Hampton, Olumuyiwa Salako, Keith Demby and Ishmael Reynolds play defense. Sara Miller, Jayden Hampton, Ishmael Reynolds, Brandon Clark, Amir Lloyd-Wheeler, Matthew Bryson, Olyvia Smith and Willek Murphy play offense. Olyvia Smith leads us in passing touchdowns. Keith Demby leads us in receiving touchdowns. Amir Lloyd Wheeler, Brandon Clark and Matthew Bryson are the running backs.”
Mears said Keith Demby leads the team in sacks and is one of the top defensive players at rushing the quarterback in the state.
The goals of unified sports are to bring together all types of athletes and to foster a feeling of acceptance and belonging, Mears said.
“The kids on our team have developed a bond with one another that goes deeper than just sports,” he said. “Our team is a perfect example of how unified sports creates the true feeling of a team.”