WILMINGTON — A 1-4 start put a damper on St. Elizabeth football in 2015, but the Vikings rebounded to win three of their final five games, and the enthusiasm has carried over to this year. The roster is about a dozen players larger than last season, and the commitment was evident over the summer.
“We got the best turnout for summer workouts that we’ve had in my four years here,” senior David Hazleton said. “We saw about 40 kids per night. And these are big numbers for us. We have about 45 kids out here this year, which is great. It means the program is growing.”
The increased depth has helped at preseason practice, according to associate head coach and offensive coordinator Joe Wright.
“Obviously, at a smaller school, the numbers are very important,” said Wright, the former St. Mark’s High School and West Chester University quarterback. “We’re getting more speed in practice. Last year, we had seniors going against freshmen in practice. Now the guys are a year older, a year bigger, a year stronger, and they’re in the system, so they know what we expect out of them. I think that helps out when you have our number ones going against our number twos.”
St. Elizabeth’s offense has centered around junior running back Chris Cropper, but the team expects contributions from a group of players. Junior Casey Rock returns at quarterback, and he will have Hazleton, Kellen Sweeney and Mike Wilson as weapons.
“We’ve got a lot of young talent that we’re going to be able to mix into this team. It’s awesome,” Hazleton said.
The Vikings will get a head start on the rest of the state in terms of starting the season. They meet McKean on Sept. 8 at Baynard Stadium in one of two DFRC Kickoff Classic matchups. They follow with a trip to Laurel and also meet Delaware Military, Wilmington Friends, St. Mark’s and Archmere. Hazleton said the team is going to enter every week “knowing that we’re going to be able to compete and win. We really think we can go 10-0 if we do our jobs.”
His classmate, offensive guard Mickey Henry, is ready for St. Elizabeth to make some noise in his second season at the school.
“This is the most excited I’ve been,” Henry said. “I really felt it during the summer just how excited everybody was. Everyone’s just ready to get this season going. We have a big season. We were 4-6 last year. We have a lot to prove. We’re going to come out and show the whole state that we belong. Hopefully we can make it to the playoffs and show people we belong there, too.”
Wright said the motto during the preseason was to get better every day. If the Vikings get better every day and every week, that will translate to wins.
09/08/16 MCKEAN 7 pm
09/16/16 @ Laurel 7:30 pm
09/23/16 CONRAD 7 pm
10/01/16 vs. Delaware Military Academy 7 pm @UD
10/08/16 FRIENDS 2 pm
10/14/16 DICKINSON 7 pm (homecoming)
10/21/16 @ A.I. DuPont 7 pm
10/28/16 @ Red Lion 7 pm
11/04/16 @ St. Mark’s 7 pm
11/12/16 ARCHMERE 7 pm