WILMINGTON – The first thing that jumps off the screen when checking out the roster for the St. Elizabeth football team is the experience. Twelve seniors will suit up for the Vikings this season, whereas last year they entered the year with just two, and one – the starting quarterback, no less – was lost for the season with an early knee injury.
The most obvious change will be visible on the sideline beginning this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at Mount Pleasant. Marvin Dooley, one of the state’s most accomplished coaches in any sport, takes the helm as he attempts to recapture St. E’s past gridiron glory. He has had to adjust from his days at William Penn, one of the state’s biggest schools, to St. Elizabeth, with far fewer boys playing football. But the changes are not as jarring as one might believe, Dooley said.
“I think the biggest change is that you limit your contact because you can’t afford to lose bodies. But football is football, whether it’s Division I or Division II. Assignments are the same, schemes are the same. Bodies are different,” he said on a recent scorcher of a day at Canby Park, where the Vikings practice.
Overall, Dooley said, “I’s excited to be a Viking. I really am.”
Two of the seniors, Ray Jones and John Shields, are happy to be playing for Dooley, who coached William Penn to a state championship in 2014.
“I’m excited for Coach Dooley because he’s mainly about discipline. The schemes, they haven’t changed too much. Everything else is pretty easy to adapt to,” Shields said.
“He really pushes you, and he knows how to win,” Jones added. “He kind of can bring that winning tradition back and kind of teach the guys around us who haven’t really been on a winning team for the past however long it’s been.”
Noah Ogbin, a senior transfer from William Penn, will be the starting quarterback for the Vikings. He played the same position last year, so he is familiar with the Wing-T offense that forms the base for St. Elizabeth. Behind him in the backfield will be Cameron Tjaden, Connor Rock, Dashaun Brooks and Rock. Shields anchors the receiving corps. Rock will be the defensive captain.
After the morning start at Mount, the Vikings take on a schedule that includes a number of playoff teams from last season, including the Division II champions, Delmar. The Vikings are ready for the challenge.
“I think every team we have we can play with. I’m not saying we’re going to beat them. We have to outplay them, outscheme them, everything,” Dooley said, adding that improvement each week is very important as well.
Jones and Shields agree, but they would like a few more victories in their senior season.
“Our team just wants to succeed. We want to come together as one and do the best we can,” Shields said.
Home games – all at Baynard Stadium – in CAPS
Sept. 8, 10:45 a.m.: at Mount Pleasant
Sept. 14, 7:30 p.m.: at Laurel
Sept. 22, 7 p.m.: DELMAR
Sept. 28, 7 p.m.: DELAWARE MILITARY ACADEMY
Oct. 5, 7 p.m.: at Glasgow
Oct. 12, 7 p.m.: FRIENDS
Oct. 19, 7 p.m. ARCHMERE
Oct. 27, 1 p.m.: at Academy of New Church (Pa.)
Nov. 2, 7 p.m.: at St. Mark’s
Nov. 10, 2 p.m.: NEWARK