River wins one of the state’s most notorious rivalries

For the better part of this decade, the seasonal match-up between Indian River High School and Delmar has decided which of the two teams would clench the Henlopen Southern Division championship.

Coastal Point • Ruslana Lambert: Senior fullback and co-captain Cody Cooke carries through the Delmar defense in last Friday’s game. Cooke ran for 171 yards and three touchdowns in the win over the Wildcats.Coastal Point • Ruslana Lambert
Senior fullback and co-captain Cody Cooke carries through the Delmar defense in last Friday’s game. Cooke ran for 171 yards and three touchdowns in the win over the Wildcats.

With the Wildcats seizing the game the past two years and the Indians capturing it in the three prior seasons, the teams knew there would be a lot of tension and anticipation on the line this past Friday, Oct. 3 — but, thanks to an aggressive running game from the Indians, Jim Bunting and his team improved their undefeated record with a final score of 27-13, moving 5-0 on the year and dishing Delmar their first loss of 2008.

As the Indians picked up possession and ate up the clock, the Wildcats found themselves staring down an elite offense. Senior fullback Cody Cooke powered his way down the field behind a prepared offensive line, gathering 130 rushing yards on 15 carries in the first half alone, and finished with 171 total yards and three touchdowns.Friday’s game gave Cooke a total of eight touchdowns on the year and more than 400 rushing yards.

“The line did a great job opening holes for us,” he said. “We did everything we could to keep [the drive] going.”

Running backs Elijah Foreman and Tyree Oliver also contributed on the ground, pushing through for a combined 147 yards.

Despite being, for the most part, a young team, the Indians understood the significance of this showdown.

“This was the most hostile atmosphere in the whole state,” said senior co-captain Zach Kmetz, “but it means that much more coming here and winning. This is complete bliss for our team.”

“This was the best thing that’s ever happened to these kids,” agreed Bunting. “We’re young, and there’s a lot of smack talk in games like this, but the guys took care of one another and did what we came to do.”

Cooke was able to record his best game yet, thanks to an attributing front line.

“We felt that where we were taking the ball,” said Bunting, “Luke Long could handle his man. We knew that if we could get Cody through that hole, he’d pick up what we needed each time, and he did. I complimented the whole line. They play hard and play as a unit. It was a total team effort, and they responded well.”

While the Indians suffered a few personal-foul calls and sporadic strong plays from the Wildcats, they were able to contain Tevin Jackson — one of the state’s leading running backs — holding him to just 60 accumulated yards.

“Delmar scored on big plays,” said Bunting, “and I’ll give them that. But that’s a compliment to our defense. Delmar had no sustained drives. We do what we can do, and we stopped them when we needed to.”

Though this was arguably the Indians’ biggest testament of their skill this year until states, their season is far from over. This Friday, Oct. 9, they will head to Milford to take on the Buccaneers — a team that has yet to give up a conference loss this year. The 4-1 Bucs will be the Indians’ third consecutive conference match-up in a six-week Southern Division stint.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us,” said Bunting, “but, fortunately, our guys are making our job easier as coaches. I want the team to enjoy tonight and enjoy tomorrow,” he said following last Friday’s win at Delmar, “but by Monday, we’re back to work. Our guys know what’s at hand. We’re going to prepare and do what we need to.”

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 10, at Milford’s Briggs Stadium. The Indians will return to their home field the following Friday, Oct. 17, hosting Lake Forest.