Indians get past Cape in season-opener, 24-21

If there’s one thing Indian River’s football team knows, it’s the importance of starting the season off right. Over the past two years, their victories in the schedule opener against Cape Henlopen have proven vital, awarding them bids into the state tournament. Last Friday’s season-starter, though closer than the Indians would have preferred, didn’t disappoint, as the “Green and Gold” triumphed 24-21.

Coastal Point • Jesse Pryor: The Indian River offense lines up in its season-opener at Cape Henlopen High School. Indian River squeezed by the Raiders 24-21. The Indians have won the last three season-openers against Cape.Coastal Point • Jesse Pryor
The Indian River offense lines up in its season-opener at Cape Henlopen High School. Indian River squeezed by the Raiders 24-21. The Indians have won the last three season-openers against Cape.

For the third consecutive season, the Indians managed to walk away with a win over Cape in the first game of the year, and upon the turf field of the new Legends Stadium, amid the remnants of Tropical Storm Hanna, no less.

River came out with a strong showing, rallying scores in three of their first four drives in the opening quarter. Sophomore Elijah Foreman broke free with a 53-yard touchdown run to put the Indians up 10-0, and freshman starting quarterback Jamie Jarmon found senior wide receiver Danny Bokinsky in the end zone to bring the lead to 17.

With his touchdown catch, Bokinsky topped 1,000 career reception yards with Indian River.

“That reception was a huge boost for us,” said Bokinsky. “We knew that as soon as we got Cape on their heels we had to keep pushing.”

Cape fought back, though, as quarterback Jack McPike connected with Anthony Middleton on fourth-and-goal, to bring the score to 17-6 just before the half.

Both teams battled in the second, exchanging fumble recoveries and impressive surges on the ground. Foreman racked up another touchdown run, but Cape was closing in, thanks to a kick-return touchdown from Laquan Hazzard. McPike reached Ryan Goodwin in the end zone for a second touchdown pass.

With the score spread by five, and River sitting in dangerous field position after recovering a Cape Henlopen fumble in the end zone, Bunting and offensive coordinator Paul Kmetz knew they had to pull some strings.

Less than two minutes remained on the clock as Indian River gave up an intentional safety, awarding two points to Cape but leaving them with more field to cover after the kickoff. Bokinsky came through again, picking off an interception late in the fourth quarter to seal the game.

“The interception at the end was huge for us,” he said. “I couldn’t help but smile. We can’t take any game too lightly. We play Cape at the start of each season, but it’s never the same game.”

Having lost last year’s senior quarterback, Nick Kmetz, to graduation, teammates have rallied behind Jarmon.

“We really needed him tonight and he came through,” Foreman said of his quarterback. “The team really appreciates him coming in and stepping up. He started getting tough.”
Coastal Point • Jesse Pryor: An Indian River runner squares up against a Cape defenseman in the season-opener.Coastal Point • Jesse Pryor
An Indian River runner squares up against a Cape defenseman in the season-opener.

Foreman starts the year behind two touchdown rushes, with hopes of picking up plenty more. “This was a really good start for the season,” he said, “and I hope we can keep it up.”

“Our team’s always happy to get a win,” said tight end and co-captain Zach Kmetz, “but now, everything is on Decatur. We value each game and respect every team, but we have to stay focused on our next challenge.”

Continuing the family’s legacy with the Indian River football program is something Zach Kmetz said he can be very proud of.

“Nick was a great player,” he noted of his elder brother, “and not someone you can easily replace. We proved tonight that we’re a team, though, and this is our season.”

As for Bunting, his team may have narrowly escaped an early loss, but chalking up one in the win column was a positive step forward.

“The team was concerned going into this game,” he said. “Our guys really don’t know what we’ve got, and I think most other teams out there don’t realize it yet, either.”

Keeping the Indians from getting too comfortable with an early lead, though, was a task in itself.

“When we’re up 17-nothing, against a Division I school, playing away, our guys have to remember there’s blood in the water. We don’t have to be cocky, but we need a swagger about us,” he said.

“We’re a young team,” he added. “and it was smart for Cape to put nine in box against a new quarterback. You have to take it for what it is, but you have to have to be there to help him out. The guys stepped up there at the end and made me put my confidence and faith in them. That made me as proud as a coach can be.”

The Indians will head to Seahawk Stadium at Stephen Decatur High this Friday, Sept. 12, at 7 p.m. Next week, they will host Washington High School for the first home game of the year.