It took four years and a few near-misses, but the Archmere football team finally returned to the Division II postseason in 2018. The Auks took some big hits to graduation from that team, but the current edition doesn’t see any reason why they can’t make it a repeat performance.
“We basically need to keep doing what we did last year … and keep getting better. We have a lot of young guys this year who know they’re going to step up, and we’re ready for them to step up,” said senior Matt DiGregorio, who is returning from an injury that cost him his junior season.
Coach John Bellace said this year’s Auks have every chance to be as special as the 2018 team, which went 9-2.
“For us, it’s always next man up. That’s just the way it is at our school with our size we have and the graduations that we have. Those guys are special; we’re going to miss them. But all we need is for the guys who are coming in this year to do what they do and be the best player they can be,” he said.
Senior Tom Carney makes a position switch from receiver to quarterback, the position he played up until last season. He is confident he can pick up and be the leader the Auks need.
“Coming back, I had to re-learn a couple things, but it should be fun. I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
Bellace pointed to juniors Shawn Enverso and Michael Mallamaci as two guys to watch out of the backfield. DiGregiorio said the offensive line will be a real strength, especially with William Van Belle at center, Dan Rogers at left guard and Vaughn DiBattista at left tackle.
“It’s going to be a real good veteran side of the line,” DiGregorio said.
A lot of the same guys will be contributors on defense as well. DiGregorio said to watch for his younger brother, Kevin, and others.
Archmere will have two big opportunities to pick up tournament bonus points with games against Division I foes Mount Pleasant and Wilmington Charter. Saint Mark’s and St. Elizabeth both travel to Claymont this season, and the road tests include defending Division II state champ Woodbridge and Delaware Military.
“We do like our rivalry with Saint Mark’s, a team that we love playing. That should be a challenge,” Carney said. But, he continued, “We’re not going to overlook the game that we have up next. Mount Pleasant is the only game we’re going to focus on.”
The Auks have been consistently good in recent years, but they were coming up just short of making the postseason. Now that they’ve returned, the secret is out.
“We’re not sneaking up on anybody. Everybody knows our program now, but we’re ready for the challenge,” Di Gregorio said.
Bellace said his team needs to take every game seriously, in part because the Diamond State Athletic Conference winner does not receive an automatic playoff berth. He also wants his players to savor the experience.
“Every single rep, every single day matters because it goes by quick,” he said.
Home games in CAPS
Sept. 14, 1 p.m.: Conrad
Sept. 20, 7 p.m.: Tatnall
Sept. 28, 2 p.m.: SAINT MARK’S
Oct. 4, 7 p.m.: Woodbridge
Oct. 11, 7 p.m.: Delaware Military
Oct. 19, 2 p.m.: ST. ELIZABETH
Oct. 26, noon: RED LION
Nov. 2, 11 a.m.: Wilmington Charter
Nov. 9, noon: FIRST STATE MILITARY