and Jason Winchell
St. Mark’s moves to Division II this season after reaching the Division I semifinals last season, where the Spartans lost to William Penn. St. Mark’s will instantly become one of the top contenders for that division’s state championship. The Spartans open their season Friday at home vs. Newark at 7 p.m.
Coach John Wilson has spent much of the preseason trying to replace 21 graduated seniors, but he was encouraged by what he saw this summer and into the preseason.
“Anytime you have kids who come out and want to work out, it makes you excited. That’s what comes from the summertime,” in the weight room and at camps, he said.
On offense, junior Billy Sullivan will take over as the starting quarterback. His weapons include receivers Jamai Rice and Tyler Kaczmarczyk and tight end Eric Cella. The Spartans are a bit thin on the offensive line, but Wilson is certain some players will emerge as unexpected surprises.
Rice, a senior co-captain, said St. Mark’s may look a little different on offense this season.
“We’ve changed up a little bit. We’re doing a pistol slot, so you can look forward to a lot of that. We’ll go spread a lot, throw the ball around,” he said.
Cella, who plays linebacker in addition to tight end, said the Spartans will line up in a 3-4 defensive alignment to take advantage of their speed.
“Tough up front, making tackles outside,” Cella said. “We have good defensive backs, for sure, just ready to go, really.”
The move to Division II has not changed the motivation or attitude of the Spartans, Wilson said. The goal, as always, is to play to the best of their abilities and to compete for a state championship. Wilson has assembled one of the toughest schedules in Delaware, with matchups against Division II powers Archmere, Hodgson, Caravel, Lake Forest and St. Georges. The Spartans open and close their season with Division I opponents, Newark and Salesianum.
Rice said there are many high-caliber players at the Division II level, many of whom could play for any school. He is intrigued by having so many new opponents on the schedule.
Rice and Cella are excited about playing Sallies at Delaware Stadium.
“We always gear up for them. It’s going to be fun,” Cella said. “It’s going to be unique. I guess there’s going to be a ton of people. We’ll be ready for the bright lights, I hope.”
Friday, Sept. 11: Newark, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 18: at Lake Forest, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 25: Brandywine, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 31: at Archmere, 2 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 9: Delaware Military, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 16: at Caravel, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 23: St. Georges, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 30: Hodgson, 7 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 6: at St. Elizabeth, 7 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 12: vs. Salesianum, 7 p.m. (at Delaware Stadium)