The Smyrna football team lost a 76-56 game last Friday. On the same night, Dover won a 41-40 game.
So when the Eagles and Senators meet at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Dover, it would be natural to expect the points to start hitting the board right after kickoff and never stop.
But a couple of big factors may keep it from turning into another shootout. Both teams run versions of the spread offense, so their defenses see it in practice every day and may be better prepared to slow the opposition. And a weather forecast calling for a 100 percent chance of rain could make handling the ball treacherous.
But Smyrna (2-1), ranked fourth in Division I, and eighth-ranked Dover (2-1) should produce an entertaining game, no matter how their Henlopen North conference opener plays out.
“Ultimately, as a head coach, I’m looking for one more point than they score,” Eagles coach Mike Judy said. “That will make me a happy camper.”
Senators coach Dante Jones feels the same way. Dover was one of the few teams to limit Smyrna’s offense last season, as the Senators built a 35-14 halftime lead on the way to a 41-22 victory.
“They’re doing the same thing they did last year. They’re just doing it a little better,” Jones said of Smyrna. “They’ve got a great thing going, and they’ve got kids in the right positions.
“We’re just going to try to do the same thing we did last year, just cover and make sure we’re making good open-field tackles. We see it often, so we are definitely well versed against the spread.”
Dover defensive backs Tuscan Wright and Jordan Allen and linebacker Melvin Jackson will have their hands full against the Eagles. Smyrna quarterback Nolan Henderson completed 26 of 33 passes for 506 yards and four touchdowns, and running back Will Knight rushed 16 times for 141 yards in last week’s loss to Salesianum.
But the Senators’ offense has plenty of talent, too. Quarterback Triston Harris completed 15 of 22 passes for 382 yards and 6 TDs against Lake Forest last week. Three of those scores went to Dwight Wilson, two to Breon Dennis. And running back Jerry Warren has crossed the goal line six times in three games.
“They’re putting up numbers, and they’re getting better and better each week,” Jones said.
The Senators opened the season with a 49-28 loss at powerful Baltimore Dunbar, but bounced back to edge Baltimore Poly 28-20 in overtime before slipping past Lake Forest 41-40.
“Last year, we lost a lot of close ones. This year, we’re coming up on the winning end of close ones,” Jones said. “I’m definitely happy about that, us finding a way to win in close situations.”
Smyrna’s defense, meanwhile, may still be reeling after allowing Sallies running back Colby Reeder to run for 408 yards and seven touchdowns. Judy knew the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Reeder would be a handful, but the Eagles also made several critical miscues that led to big runs.
“The focus this week is to try to correct those errors that we had, fix those mistakes and move forward,” Judy said.
The offense isn’t a problem. The Eagles scored eight touchdowns last week, five of them 51 yards or longer.
“We want to put 40 or 50 points on the board every time we walk out there, if not more,” Judy said. “Our offense wants to hang 60 points on people, and they’re not happy if they don’t.”
Contact Brad Myers at [email protected] . Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ