It wasn’t too long ago that the fall sports season was starting, and in the first week of November, just football has not yet reached the postseason. And that sport is in its final week of the regular season.
Cross country will be the first championship contested. The runners will be at Brandywine Creek State Park this Saturday. Volleyball follows on Monday, while soccer and field hockey aren’t far behind.
Come Sunday, the DIAA will announce the brackets for the three football tournaments. Keep your eyes here for those matchups next week in this space.
State championships, Brandywine Creek State Park, Wilmington, 1 p.m. The state championships return to New Castle County at the Creek, a challenging, hilly course that could favor the teams used to running its terrain. The girls’ Division I begins the day at 1 p.m., with Division II following at 1:40. It’s the Division I boys at 2:20, and the Division II boys close the season at 3. For the girls, Padua (Division I) and Ursuline (Division II) are looking to defend their titles from last year, but Saint Mark’s has designs on its first title in Division II and first overall since 2006. The Spartans have been runners-up to Ursuline the past two years.
Salesianum will be running on its home course, although the Sals had just one meet there this season. They are hoping to take back the Division I title they lost last season to Cape Henlopen. Saint Mark’s and Archmere both finished in the top five in Division II last year.
No. 9 Caravel (11-6) vs. No. 1 Saint Mark’s (15-0), 6 p.m. at the St. E Center. Saint Mark’s and Caravel did not meet during the regular season. In fact, the teams have not played each other since the first round of the 2018 tournament, when three of the current Spartans were freshmen. Caravel is battle-tested; 12 of their 15 regular-season matches were against tournament teams, including four of the other six in the quarterfinals.
No. 7 Dover (14-2) vs. No. 2 Padua (12-4), 6 p.m. at Saint Mark’s High School. Dover is in the midst of its most successful volleyball campaign since at least 2006. The Senators have won 10 straight matches (in addition to the Henlopen Conference championship match) and are bidding to be the first Henlopen team to make the semifinals since Caesar Rodney in 2010. To do so, they’ll have to get by a Pandas team whose four losses came to three teams all seeded in the top six of the state tournament.
No. 14 Ursuline (9-7) vs. No. 6 Wilmington Friends (14-2), approx. 7:30 p.m. at Saint Mark’s High School. The Raiders pulled off an upset of third seed Red Lion over the weekend, and they’ll have to do it again if they want to move on. Friends has earned semifinal bids the last two seasons, and they come in with a veteran squad that has consistently produced in the postseason. The teams last played in the consolation match of the 2018 state tournament.
No. 13 Delaware Military/No. 5 Newark Charter winner vs. Caravel/Saint Mark’s winner, 6 p.m. at Saint Mark’s High School.
Ursuline/Wilmington Friends winner vs. Dover/Padua winner, approx. 7:30 p.m. at Saint Mark’s High School.
No. 10 Saint Mark’s (9-5-1) at No. 7 Lake Forest (10-5), 2 p.m. The Saint Mark’s Spartans earned a trip to Felton in the opening round of the Division II state tournament. The Lake Forest Spartans won their final four games to earn a spot in the tournament.
No. 7 Padua (7-7-1) at No. 2 Wilmington Charter (13-2), 2 p.m. It’s rematch time for the Pandas and the Force, who met on Oct. 4, with Charter taking the 3-2 win on a goal with 1:53 remaining. That game was on turf, but this game will take place on a slower grass surface.
Saint Mark’s/Lake Forest winner at No. 2 Archmere, 11 a.m. The Auks await the Spartans. They defeated Saint Mark’s early this season, but they haven’t played Lake since the 2017 Division II quarterfinals. The Auks reached the semifinals last year.
No. 10 Sussex Academy (7-7) vs. No. 7 Archmere (10-5), 6 p.m. at Abessinio Stadium. The Auks overcame a four-match losing streak early in the season and have won seven of their last eight, with the only loss coming at Salesianum. It’s been the opposite for the Seahawks, however, who started strong but dropped seven of their final nine regular-season matches, although four of those came to teams in the Division I tournament field.
Wednesday (Division I quarterfinal)
No. 6 Delcastle (12-3) at No. 2 Salesianum (11-4), 5:30 p.m. The Sals host the Cougars, who finished the regular season with wins in seven of their final eight matches. Delcastle scores a lot of goals, so the Sals’ defense will need to be on its toes.
Saturday (Division II quarterfinal)
No. 9 Newark Charter/No. 8 Brandywine winner at No. 1 Saint Mark’s (12-3), 11 a.m. Saint Mark’s has played both the Patriots and the Bulldogs, so there should be no surprises no matter which team advances. Both were tight games, with Saint Mark’s scoring twice in the second half to defeat Brandywine, and getting a goal in the 77th minute to edge Newark Charter.
Sussex Academy/Archmere winner at No. 2 Caravel (12-3), 5 p.m.
Caravel (8-1) vs. St. Elizabeth (9-0), 7 p.m. at Abessinio Stadium. The final week of the regular season opens with this gem on the turf at Abessinio. It’s been a season to remember at St. Elizabeth, with its offense putting up incredible numbers all year. But in the Buccaneers they get a foe that scores like them and whose only loss has come to undefeated Woodbridge (where the coach is former Vikings coach Marvin Dooley).
Salesianum (6-2) at Appoquinimink (5-4), 7 p.m. The Sals had a big second half to defeat Dover last week, and they’ll want to avoid a similar start against Appoquinimink. The Jaguars – before running into Smyrna last week – had found themselves in their prior four games, putting up huge numbers on offense.
Archmere (9-0) at Delaware Military Academy (9-0), 7 p.m. The schedule-makers were kind to high school football fans for the end of the regular season. The Auks and Seahawks have clinched high seeds in the Class 2A state tournament, but which one will get to say they had an undefeated regular season? Both of these teams feature multiple offensive weapons. It should be a great battle under the lights.