IR puts second loss behind them, ready for Seaford

The Indian River High School football team took a devastating blow last week against an overpowering Laurel lineup, falling six points shy in a game that will ultimately affect their playoff standings.

The Indians slipped 37-43 in the conference bout, bringing their season record to 6-2, 3-2 in the Southern Henlopen conference. A controversial offensive-holding call may have determined the final outcome, but the Indians can’t allow the loss to affect them with a quickly approaching post-season and two crucial games on the horizon.

“We didn’t play to our potential in the first half,” said Indians head coach Jim Bunting. “We needed to play the whole game the same way we came out in the second half – primarily, the way we played in the last eight minutes of the game.”

Trailing at halftime, the Indians were caught in a spot they hadn’t seen for quite some time this year.

“I’ve told the guys this since day one,” said Bunting. “No single player or coach can win a game and no single person can lose a game. We had some procedure calls that may have been questionable on our staff’s part, and there were instances where some of our guys could have made better decisions. A lot of the time, we had our guys in the right place. Laurel just came to play, and they showed it. They were really working together.”

The outsized Indians battled the first two quarters, unmercifully trampled by Laurel fullback Tyler West, who powered with small gains effective enough to keep the Indians on their toes. The Bulldogs also brought an improved passing game that shook up the Indians’ defense.

IR freshman quarterback Jamie Jarmon connected with seniors wide receiver/cornerback Danny Bokinsky and tight end/middle linebacker Zach Kmetz for 28 passing yards, while rushing 64 yards on nine attempts, and picking up a touchdown. Cody Cooke and Elijah Foreman ran for a combined 175 yards, each picking up a touchdown. Both Bokinsky and Kmetz also tallied runs, marking up a combined additional 66 yards. Kicker Zach Izzo went 3-3 on field goals in the Indians’ loss.

Kmetz attempted to anchor the Indians’ defense, making 11 tackles and assisting on five, while junior free safety Tim Wood registered nine tackles on the evening. Sophomore cornerback Tim Bokinsky snagged an interception in the game for the Indians but, ultimately, the Laurel Bulldogs came out with the win.

Shortly before time expired, a questionable offensive call negated the Indians’ fight toward their end zone – one that could have easily made the difference in the six-point final difference.

“It’s frustrating,” Bunting added, “but there’s nothing you can do now. You can’t let something like this hold you down. Time will heal. A result like this isn’t something these boys will walk away from very easily but, as I’ve told them, the majority of the game is between the ears. It’s mental.”

Despite two conference losses that currently put the Indians behind Laurel, Delmar and Milford, (each of which has one loss in the conference) subsequent wins for IR this Friday hosting Seaford and the following Friday at Sussex Central could catapult them to the front of the Henlopen South Conference assuming the right outcomes from rivals.

A Delmar win over Laurel this Friday would put the Indians back in the running and, pending the outcome of their next two games closing out the season, push them ahead in the playoffs. Rankings are not entirely weighed on wins and losses. Bonus points are factored in as well. Teams are awarded additional points for beating teams that finish the year with a .500 record and better, regardless of their conference. IR’s early season win over Stephen Decatur, a Maryland school, could benefit them later if Decatur’s current 4-3 record continues above .500.

“We’ve got our backs at the wall,” Bunting noted. “We’re in a must-win situation.”

“These games are huge for us,” said tight end and defensive end senior Shelby Dolby. “We don’t want to look ahead of Seaford, but really need to gear up for Central. We aren’t the favorites to come out of that game and, honestly, I like being the underdogs. We were the underdogs against Delmar, and we came out every play. That’s what we need to bring on Friday and next week.”

The Indians have the ball in their court this Friday, Oct. 31, on Senior Night, as they play host to Seaford, whose only win this season came from Woodbridge earlier this month. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.