IR football enters season with a target on their backs
Having won the 2011 state football championship with a 12-0 record, Indian River High School is the place to be. Head coach Ray Steele estimated that 92 players attended preseason, with a roster settling in the 80s.
“They’ve come in with a great attitude, great work ethic,” said Steele. “They have big expectations, and so do I.”
After the magic of 2011, the Indians aren’t looking to just repeat the victory — they want to build a new legacy. Steele said the championship title is not something to defend but something that must be earned again.
The team relied on Jamie Jarmon’s arm for four years, but the quarterback has graduated and moved on to pro baseball, leaving Spencer Murray and Colby Dean to vie for starting position.
“You don’t replace a kid like Jamie. He was a great kid,” Steele said, “But both of them are very capable. Right now, we’ll see. All we’re asking them to do is not make mistakes and get the ball where it needs to be.”
With last year’s offensive crush, it might have escaped notice that the IR defense was a solid wall, only giving up a touchdown or two per game. Fortunately for the Indians, most of the players now have past field experience because strong leads in each game allowed more students to get some playing time.
Selbyville Middle School also sent members of its 2011 undefeated eighth-grade football team to fill the JV ranks at IRHS, offering a young group that is raring to go.
IR started its 2012 preseason with scrimmages against Caesar Rodney and Smyrna. What did they learn?
“We think we’re going to be just as fast as anybody we play. We’re going to hit just as hard,” said Steele.
If they win their season-opener against Stephen Decatur, Steele said the victory would give students the confidence needed for a winning mindset.
Steele said the team is getting good leadership from the seniors who “want this to be their year,” especially captains Marquel Knight, Aarron Moore, Jalen Griffin, Zac Hill, Allen Justice and Kees Elling. Their first goal is to win the Southern Henlopen Division.
“Are we going to be a 12-0 team and state champ? I don’t know,” Steele said simply. “We’re going to represent IR very well, I think.”
The Indians will kick off 2012 at Stephen Decatur in Berlin, Md., on Friday, Sept. 7, at 6 p.m.