There are many years in Delaware prep football that a 7-3 record will earn a team a spot in the Division II football tournament. Unfortunately for Archmere, 2017 was not one of those years. A deep pool of quality teams played in the postseason, and the eventual champion, Delmar, was the eighth and final seed with a record of 9-1.
Coach John Bellace and the Auks know the challenge that lays in front of them, and they are ready to climb that ladder beginning Saturday afternoon. Archmere faces a stiff test in Dover, a Division I opponent from the Henlopen North Conference that features an electric quarterback and running back. The Senators are just one of several quality opponents standing between the Auks and tourney qualification.
“Our feeling has always been that we have to earn our way in,” Bellace said. “If we can get past those games, then we deserve to be there. If we can’t get past playoff contenders, then justice is sort of served. We know the games that we have to win.
“We feel like we can’t take any week off at all.”
Archmere will line up with a new quarterback under center. Senior Devin Houston takes the reins. He backed up Joe DiGregorio last season, although Houston did lead the Auks to a win at Conrad while starting for an injured DiGregorio.
“We have total confidence in (Houston). He’s been ready to be a starter for the last year. So we’re looking for him for not just physical skills, but to take command and leadership and demonstrating by his play,” Bellace said.
There is lots of experience on both sides of the ball. Senior Cole Bauer leads a group of running backs that also includes classmate Darren DiRenzo. Zane Fracek is an inviting target at tight end, and a number of players should be on the receiving end of passes. The offensive line has a lot of height and is anchored by Mitchell Moyer.
DiRenzo said a player to keep an eye on is senior Louis Rosato. “He’s been looking at the plays and looking at the defensive calls and getting in the weight room a lot, so we’ll definitely see how he turns out. But I have some good vibes with him.”
Fracek said the offensive line could be a strength. The players are tall and are anchored by Mitchell Moyer.
“On the outside we have Danny Rogers at tackle and Vaughn DiBattista at nose guard and center, and Mike Marino at the other tackle spot. They’re tall guys, and I think they’ll be able to help out Mitch and keep Devin safe,” Fracek said.
Many of the same players double up on the defensive side. Moyer will present matchup nightmares to his foes, Fracek said.
Dover is just the first of the outstanding teams the Auks will face. They will need to grab a win or two against teams that beat them last year in order to keep playing after week 10. Bellace is ready.
“We have to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. We had our chances to win some games last year, and we’ve just gotta make plays when they’re in front of us. Every play can be the difference in that last point that we need,” he said.
Home games in CAPS
Sept. 15, noon: CONRAD
Sept. 22, noon: at Tatnall
Sept. 28, 7 p.m.: at St. Mark’s
Oct. 6, 2 p.m.: CARAVEL
Oct. 13, 2 p.m.: DELAWARE MILITARY ACADEMY
Oct. 19, 7 p.m.: at St. Elizabeth (Baynard Stadium)
Oct. 26, 7 p.m.: at Red Lion
Nov. 3, 2 p.m.: WILMINGTON CHARTER
Nov. 10, 11 a.m.: at First State Military Academy