What do you like better, Christmas or wedding season? The correct answer would be: banquet season.
There’s nothing like a good misquoted Vince Vaughnism [sic] to send us into the most wonderful time of the year.
IR swimming aiming for fourth straight South title, first conference title
They graduated two of the top swimmers in Indian River High School history, in Mason Sanders and Lauren McCoy.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is a youth infusion of new swimmers joining the ranks and returning veterans coming back even stronger has Indian River High School head swimming coach Colin Crandel with not only hopes for a fourth straight division title for both the boys and girls, but a possible first-ever conference title for the boys as well.
“The boys’ team doubled in size — we’ve got more talent than I anticipated, so I’m really excited about our chances,” Crandel said. “It’s a really good moldable group that I can work with.
“With the boys, I anticipated a rebuilding year, but more of them came out than I anticipated, and they’re more talented than I anticipated.”
Legendary Indian River coach Dale Steele passes away at 68
Hanging up facing the desk of Athletic Director Todd Fuhrmann at Indian River High School is a photo. There isn’t much else on display.
The photo is in black and white, and it’s simple: Dale Steele leaned back in his chair in his own former office, with the look of someone who’s exactly where they’re meant to be, doing exactly what they’re meant to be doing.
The point of the photo is simple as well. It’s a reminder for Fuhrmann from his former mentor on not only how to do the job, but on how to do the job well.
That’s the kind of legacy and influence that Dale Steele left behind at Indian River High School and across the Sussex County sports world when the long-time IRHS athletic director, head football coach and baseball coach passed away after a battle with cancer on Friday, Dec. 2, at the age of 68.
“He really helped me out, and helped me learn the ins and outs of being here in the small school setting,” said Fuhrmann, who spent a year under Steele after arriving at Indian River as an athletic trainer in 2004.
“He really loved the kids and just loved everything he did. He did everything for the kids. That was what was so great about him.”
IR boys’ hoops starts 3-0, aiming for South title
Change the culture.
That’s what head coach B.J. Joseph set out to do after taking over the Indian River High School basketball team last season.
Now, in just his second year at the helm, his coaching philosophies are already starting to set in, with the Indians off to a 3-0 start with wins over Delmarva Christian, Worcester Prep and Seaford.
“He keeps us going. He wants to work hard every day — he’s not playing around,” said senior forward Isaiah “Izzy” Bratton of Joseph. “We’re confident, but we’re not slacking off. Not a bit. We still have to go hard at practice.”
“It looks like the culture is starting to change,” said Joseph. “I think we’re moving in the right direction.”
After seeing 12 players earn All Henlopen Conference honors, the Indian River High School soccer team now sees five players collect All-State honors following their 2016 season.
Four of the five players making the cut were seniors, with senior forward Johan Cordoba being named to the state Top XI list, senior goalkeeper Kevin Calles and senior defender Patrick Mochiam named First Team All-State, and senior forward Mikie Mochiam and junior forward Oscar Cruz being named Second Team All-State.
Along with senior midfielder Mac Smith, who was sidelined for most of the fall with a foot injury, Cordoba, the Mochiam brothers and Calles were also invited to play in the annual Blue-White All-Star game, with Calles being named MVP, Cordoba notching a goal and Smith marking three assists in that game.
This season, they helped lead the Indians to a 13-3 record, the group’s fourth straight Henlopen South title, a third Henlopen Conference title and a third DIAA state championship appearance, having won it in 2013 and 2015.
IR girls’ hoops off to 2-1 start
The Indian River High School girls’ basketball team is off to a 2-1 start this season, most recently taking down Seaford on the road, 47-40, to start 1-0 in the Henlopen South.
The Indians also earned a 50-41 win over Delmarva Christian on Friday, Dec. 2, before taking their first loss against Worcester Prep 34-25 on Saturday, Dec. 3.
Only five players from each region are selected by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) as All-Americans and, this year, Indian River High School’s Johan Cordoba is one of them.
Not only was the senior forward named a First Team All-Conference selection, as well as a Blue-White All-Star selection and to the DIAA All-State Top XI team, but last week, coaches from across the state voted to honor Cordoba with one of the most prestigious accolades in Delaware high school soccer.
“I was very happy when I found out that Johan had been recognized,” said IR head coach Steve Kilby.
“I went into the All State meeting under the premise of putting Johan up for the Coaches’ Top XI Team — it’s a difficult task; there’s always more upstate coaches than there are downstate coaches. You figure, Sallies, they’re putting up four or five guys for that team, and here’s little Indian River again looking to get some recognition for a player that’s very deserving of it.”
The best plays from Fall 2016
What… a… season.
While the 2016 fall sports calendar may not have shaken out as planned for a few teams at Indian River High School, this one has certainly been one for the record books for the Tribe.
Sudden weather lifts Tower Hill over IR in state title game
It was very much like a scene out of “Twister.”
The clouds swept over ominously during the singing of the national anthem. The winds began to gently rattle nets and backdrops during a moment of silence before the opening draw. Then, out of nowhere, the world began to howl.
By the opening whistle, all that was missing was the flying cow — although, considering the circumstances, some Indian River fans would go on to mutter something metaphorical about pigs taking flight.
Facing the wrong direction against wind gusts clocked between 30 and, in some cases, up to 50 mph to start the DIAA Division II state championship game on Saturday, Nov. 19, the Indian River High School soccer team saw their title hopes whisked away with that wind, as No. 3 Tower Hill took full advantage of the early aid and drained four first-half goals, to go on to an eventual 4-2 victory.
“There was no wind during warm-ups,” said IR head coach Steve Kilby after the game. “As soon as they blew the whistle, it started, so nobody knew what was going on at that point.”
The Slam Dunk to the Beach basketball tournament is back for the third year after its resurrection, and it’s bringing the game’s brightest future stars from across the nation with it.
The Delaware Youth Soccer Association (DYSA) announced this week that long-time Indian River High School and River Soccer Club coach Howard Gerken will be honored this January as the DYSA TOPSoccer Coach of the Year.
“Howard is a leader in every sense of the word,” said River Soccer Club President Rebecca Mais. “He does it so smoothly you don’t even know what just happened and he’s got things done. But the greatest gift of all is Howard’s real caring and love of other people.”
TOPSoccer is short for “The Outreach Program for Soccer,” a program designed for players with special needs.
Not only did Gerken help pioneer that program but also the River Soccer Club as it’s known today, holding practices at area schools before the club found its home at the River Soccer complex along Gum Road near Frankford.
IR’s Cordoba named NSCAA Regional All-American
Only three players from each region are selected by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) as All-Americans, and this year, Indian River High School senior forward Johan Cordoba is one of them.
It was a Murphy’s Law kind of night for the Indian River High School soccer team, to say the least.
While it may be a little early for our “Tribe Top Five” and all the best sports moments from fall 2016, with the Indian River High School soccer team still keeping IR fall sports alive and playing for a shot at the state title, it’s never too early for our ‘Not Top 10” and all the best worst sports moments from the past season involving a certain Coastal Point sports reporter with an inclination toward run-on sentences and Mighty Ducks references.
At Coastal Point press time on Wednesday, Nov. 16, the Indian River High School soccer team was either headed to the DIAA state championship game, or they weren’t.
After a 1-0 win over Caravel on Saturday, Nov. 12, the No. 1-seeded Indians punched their ticket to the semi-final game against No. 12 St. Georges on Wednesday — needing a win to stay alive and earn a bid and a chance at a second-straight state title.
Coming off a second-straight Henlopen Conference championship and first-round bye, the Indians took on No. 9-seeded Caravel at Milford High School during last Saturday’s quarter-final match and managed to advance with a 1-0 victory.
The game’s lone goal came in the 40th minute, when senior forward Johan Cordoba finished a chance after a corner kick from senior midfielder Edgardo Velasquez.
Headed into the semi-final game on Wednesday, St. Georges was riding the upset with tournament wins over No. 5 Archmere and No. 4 Newark Charter.
For two teams in the same school district, the Indian River and Sussex Central High School football teams are having very different years. That difference was on display when the young and rebuilding Indians took on the seasoned Golden Knights on Friday, Nov. 11, with the Knights coasting to a 54-21 victory.
“They’re having a big year. We were playing a really good team, and we knew that coming into this,” said IR head coach Phill Townsend after the game.
“The good thing is our guys never gave up. That’s the thing about this team, is they never gave up all season — they always played through the whistle. You can’t coach that.”
It was all Central early on, when after recovering the opening kickoff, senior running back John Morris punched it in from 3 yards out to seal the opening drive and put the Knights up 7-0.
‘G-Mart’ first IR player to rush for 1,000 yards since 2013
The last time an Indian River High School running back pulled it off, George Martin was a freshman, watching from the sidelines when former IR tailback KiAnté Sturgis eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark in 2013.
Coming up through the program at Selbyville Middle School, Martin had seen Sturgis and 2013 IRHS grads Aaron Moore and Marquel Knight set the standard for what’s historically been a dominant rushing program at IR, with feature backs racking up 1,000-yard seasons year in and year out.
But it wasn’t until last Friday that “G-Mart” helped restore that tradition, when he ripped off a 59-yard touchdown run against Sussex Central to become the first player to break the barrier in three seasons.
“It was actually kind of funny — after that run, I hadn’t even been thinking about 1,000 yards,” Martin said. “I think Coach [Phil] Townsend came up to me while I was on a knee on the sidelines and told me. It didn’t really set in until after the game.”
After capping the game with 17 carries for 143 yards and two touchdowns, Martin capped his senior season with a total 196 carries for 1,114 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns. He also completed three of four passes this season, for 105 yards, returned a punt 45 yards for a touchdown and hauled in three receptions for 43 yards and a touchdown, while still contributing at safety on defense.
It started out as just a fun, family-friendly way to get out and enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday.
Fast-forward nine years, and upwards of 750 people turn out every Thanksgiving morning for the Fenwick Island Turkey Trot and what’s become a long-standing Fenwick Island tradition.
“People start emailing me in September,” said race director Lori Martin with a laugh, of the yearly anticipation.
“It’s definitely become a family tradition — which is what I envisioned from the beginning.”
Martin, who also runs Hip AHA Boot Camp, got the idea for that tradition while on vacation with her family in the Outer Banks. When she returned, she decided to bring the concept to Delaware, adding a few touches of her own and trying to make the concept more affordable for local families.
Haden headed for Blue-Gold All Star game
Indian River High School senior Lexi Haden has been selected to represent the Indians in this year’s Blue-Gold All Star field hockey game.
With the “fastest game on two feet” making its way through Sussex County, the Indian River School District Community Education program is offering local players a way to get involved early, with its upcoming lacrosse clinics.
While sessions for both boys and girls of all ages and skill levels will be offered by the Community Education program throughout the winter, things will get under way with the first clinic, starting Nov. 28.
Held at the G.W. Carver Academy in Frankford on Monday nights from Nov. 28 through Dec. 19, the initial clinic will be offered to girls at both the middle school and high school levels.
Former NCAA Division I standouts Kelsea Ayers and Maddy Hess will be teaming up to run the camp, helping players with passing, catching and cradling basics, stick work and advanced instruction in shooting, cutting and dodging.
Tripple Overtime: Can the NFL stop bogarting Instant Replay now because we could kind of use some for field hockey
As a journalist, you’re not allowed to have a rooting interest, specific team-wise, when you’re covering games or writing features or enduring presidential elections, or whatever else.
IR seniors bring home third HAC soccer title
Head coach Steve Kilby’s “short list” keeps getting shorter.
After checking off the first item on that list with a Henlopen Southern division championship, the Indian River High School boys’ soccer team checked off item number 2 with 3-0 win over Sussex Central in the Henlopen Conference Championship game on Monday, Nov. 7.
Despite the game’s convincing final, however, in the midst of one of their most successful seasons in recent history, the North champion Golden Knights challenged early on.
“We prepared for the pace that they play,” said Kilby of a fast-paced Sussex Central squad. “We focused on speed of play and attacking the flanks.”
The course at Killens Pond State Park was again the site of the Henlopen Conference Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Nov. 11, where 13 teams and more than 160 runners showed up to go toe to toe.
Among the competition were local schools including Indian River High School, Sussex Central, Sussex Academy and Sussex Tech, with Tech being edged by Caesar Rodney for the conference crown and Milford taking the title convincingly for the girls.
Top individual finishers from local programs included Tech senior Ben Bamforth who finished first overall for the boys’ with a time of 16:29.7. The Ravens saw one other top ten finisher on the day when Jairus Hinds clocked in at 17:24.1 for fourth place, and Tech Connor Morrow and Sussex Central’s Albert Norman each cracked the top twenty with times of 17:30.2 and 17:32.7, respectively.
The back of the net bounced. The stadium erupted. The celebration ensued.
With just over five minutes left to go, Indian River High School senior forward Madi McGee had knocked in a pass from senior forward Lexi Haden to tie the game against defending state-champion Cape Henlopen during the Indians’ first DIAA tournament appearance in exactly a decade.
Except that it didn’t count.
Understandably ecstatic after one of the game’s officials had indicated “goal,” the Indians were amidst hugs and high-fives when the game’s other official overruled — citing a whistle just seconds before McGee’s shot had a chance to stretch rope.
It was an all-too-familiar situation for the Indian River High School football team when Lake Forest came to town on Friday, Nov. 4.
Just like things had gone down facing Milford three weeks prior, a game that started with IR sophomore Jacob Anderson returning the opening kick off the length of the field for a touchdown and putting the Indians up 7-0 early, they would end up with giving up too many big plays of their own and earned an eventual division loss, this time falling to the Spartans 26-7.
“We gave up the big plays on defense and consistently made mistakes this year,” said head coach Phil Townsend after the game.
“Offensively we moved the ball but we just couldn’t finish. It goes back to what we’ve been battling all year, offensively we’re making the same mistakes — we’re fumbling the ball, we’re jumping offsides, we’re not holding our blocks.”
Coming off a tough loss to Lake Forest on their own senior night, the Indian River High School football team will be looking for redemption when they set out to spoil senior night for rival Sussex Central on Friday, Nov. 11.
The 6-3 Golden Knights have impending DIAA state tournament hopes on the line however, knocked out of Henlopen North title contention but still very much in the playoff conversation should they cap the season with a win.
They’re riding back to back wins headed into the game, rolling Polytech 49-14 on Friday, Oct. 28, and more recently, Dover 43-7, on Nov. 4.
This season they’ve been without former IR running back-turned-Central star KiAnte’ Sturgis but have more than filled the backfield void with senior running back Justin Jones and senior fullback Kendrique Nocks.
After cracking the starting lineup during the pre-season and going on to tally three goals and four assists for the Spiders during her freshman campaign, Indian River High School graduate Brooke Beam was voted by league head coaches last week to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team.
While the Spiders finished 9-9-1, and saw their A-10 Tournament chances spoiled after a 1-0 loss in overtime to VCU in their final game, Beam would become the only rookie in the conference to receive A-10 Rookie of the Week honors twice during the 2016 season.
Her first R.O.W. nod came in just her third career game, when the freshman forward managed her first career NCAA points on two assists during a 4-2 win over JMU on Aug. 26.
Then, in a matchup against Rhode Island on Oct. 9, she netted what would end up being the difference in a 2-1 win on a shot from 25 yards out, enough to earn her the honors again.
Overall, Beam finished fourth on the team in total scoring with 10 points this the season.
It was the game they had marked on their schedules all season.
Ever since getting edged by Millsboro on an Ansley Morrow goal just before the buzzer last fall, the Selbyville Middle School field hockey team had been ready for redemption in what’s become an anticipated annual rivalry.
But despite the wait, it didn’t take long for the Indians to cash in on that redemption when SMS eighth grade forward Kayler Townsend made her way through the Millsboro defense on a fast break and found herself one on one with the keeper just over two minutes after the opening whistle.
“Kayler’s one of the top scorers on our team. Once she’s gone and there’s no one around her — she’s gonna score,” said eighth grade defender and co-captain Savannah O’Shields of the goal that put the Indians up 1-0 early and on their way to an eventual 6-0 victory.
Moore goes for 22 yards in loss to Wesley
The Salisbury University football team lost their second game of the season on Saturday, Nov. 5, falling to Wesley College 44-27.
Indian River High School graduate and Salisbury senior Aaron Moore rushed for 22 yards on two carries in the matchup, also returning one kick for 19 yards.
Tripple Overtime: There’s a ‘Back to the Future’ Cubs’ conspiracy even though now technically the future is kind of the past
Theoretical physics. Rubik’s cubes. Where exactly “the Cloud” is. Whether Cobb’s totem stopped spinning or no at the end of the movie “Inception” featuring Jason Gordon-Levitz (“Snowden,” “Third Rock from the Sun”) and Leonardo DiCaprio (“What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?,” pretty much every Martin Scorsese movie ever made) and also the movie’s entire not-so-basic plot, too.