Newark hosted Blue Hen Conference Flight B foe Howard High School of Technology on Saturday morning knowing the Wildcats are one of the favorites to win the Division II state championship.
Howard came to Newark fresh off its lone loss of the season, a 28-14 defeat to Hodgson, a team many believe is the frontrunner to win the Division I championship.
The Yellowjackets hung with Howard early. Each team scored in the first quarter through the air. Newark’s came on a 14-yard pass from quarterback Mele Stallings to his favorite wide receiver, Kamau Lately. The touchdown pass and catch was the sixth of the season for the duo.
Howard scored the only touchdown of the second quarter with three minutes remaining on a 60-yard screen play, giving the Wildcats a 14-6 lead heading into the locker room.
“This week, the team came to play,” head coach Jody Russell said. “Howard scored on the first play on offense on a halfback pass. We responded with a drive that had a touchdown pass called back and no points due to a penalty. Howard then went three and out and we responded with a 70-yard scoring drive.”
The third quarter proved to be the turning point for Howard as the Wildcats reeled off 16 unanswered points while keeping the Yellowjackets’ offense out of the end zone. Howard would tack on one final touchdown in the fourth quarter before heading back to Wilmington with a 38-6 victory.
“The second half had penalties, which shot us in the foot,” Russell explained. “Howard’s running back Karvin Reeves was explosive, and they have a receiver in Tyair Spencer who caught three touchdown passes. They are big and fast and are one of the best teams in the state. It is hard to run the football against them. We battled them for a half and actually had a chance in the third quarter to pull it to one score but couldn't complete the pass.”
Howard (6-1, 4-0 Flight B) would tack on one final touchdown in the fourth quarter before heading back to Wilmington with a 38-6 victory, dropping Newark’s record to 2-5, 2-2 in the conference.
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“I felt like we gave a fight in the first half and didn’t come out the second half with the same high energy and mentality that could’ve helped us win the game,” Jason Mitchell-Dickerson said.
“We just have to execute better as a whole,” Stallings said.
Lately had eight catches for over 100 yards and his sixth touchdown of the season.
Returning to action
Donald Burton played for the first time since the Lake Forest game, and it gave Newark a huge improvement on both sides of the ball, according to Russell.
“He made some big-time plays defensively,” Russell added.
Linebackers Chris Lazear and Tyran Rice were also back to full strength.
“Them being healthy also helped sure up the run defense,” Russell pointed out.
Newark gets back to playing football on Friday night when the Yellowjackets head to Brandywine High School to play for the first time under the Bulldogs’ newly installed lights. Russell said moving from Friday nights to Saturday games and vice-versa does not affect the team.
“The back and forth is what it is. It’s just the nature of the game,” he explained. “We have a preparation routine for home and away, as well as for Friday or Saturday. We just stick to the routine for the week of practice and focus on the teams one week at a time.”
Brandywine enters the game with a 4-3 record after having its three-game winning streak snapped in a 20-14 loss to Conrad on Friday night. With games remaining against A.I. du Pont (6-1) and Dickinson (0-7), a win Friday night could lock up a winning season for the Bulldogs.
With three games remaining and three wins needed for a .500 season, Russell knows this game is just as big for his own program.
“I feel like this is just as big of a game for us,” he said. “As I told the team, ‘We have a chance to win each and every week from here on out.’ We have to stay focused, not worry about records and go 1-0 each week from now until the end of the season. We can use this final stretch to springboard us into next year and set the tone for the future.”
Kickoff at Brandywine High School is at 7 p.m.
The Buzz from the Hive will be posted online each Monday morning during the high school football season and also in Friday’s print edition. It will include some game analysis and exclusive quotes from Newark High football coach Jody Russell and select members of the team after they've had a chance to watch game film, evaluate their performance, and begin preparation for the next game.