After starting practice in early August, the high school football season comes to a close this weekend with four games spread over two days at the University of Delaware. There are Catholic schools playing in two of those games.
Salesianum is back in the final for the first time in five years, and the Sals can sweep the boys’ fall sports if they defeat Cape Henlopen. Those two schools, by the way, just met two weeks ago in the Division I soccer final. That game is Friday night. The next afternoon, Archmere faces undefeated Caravel for the Class 2A title. This is Archmere’s third trip to the final in the past four years.
Tickets for the football finals can be purchased at the University of Delaware ticket portal.
Winter sports also are beginning this week. It’s a light schedule, with just a few girls basketball games and a wrestling tournament on tap, but enough of a sample to get excited for the upcoming season.
Friday, Dec. 1
No. 6 Cape Henlopen (9-3) vs. No. 1 Salesianum (11-1), 7 p.m. at Delaware Stadium. The Sals are competing for a DIAA football state championship, this time Class 3A, for the first time since 2018; their last title came in 2013.
Under new coach Gene Delle Donne, the Sals have scored plenty of points most of the year, and the defense, with a few exceptions, has held teams to three touchdowns or fewer all season. The marquis matchup in the final will feature running backs B.J. Alleyne of Salesianum and Maurki James of Cape, both of whom are capable of taking over a game. Defensively, Sallies will look to pressure the Vikings’ freshman quarterback, Jameson Tingle, who has played beyond his experience all season.
For Cape, this is the program’s third championship-game visit, but the first since 1984. The Vikings won it all in 1979, then lost in ’84. Salesianum is appearing in its 15th title game; the school has won seven and lost seven.
Saturday, Dec. 2
No. 2 Archmere (9-3) vs. No. 1 Caravel (12-0), 3 p.m. at Delaware Stadium. The Auks return to the championship game for the third time in the last four years, this time against Caravel, who lost last year’s Class 2A final to Wilmington Friends.
Archmere and the Buccaneers met on Sept. 29, with Caravel taking advantage of five Auks turnovers in a 28-2 victory. The game was close into the third quarter, however, with Caravel holding a 7-2 lead before scoring three late touchdowns. Running backs Craig and Jordan Miller pace the Bucs on offense, which scores more than 32 points per game, but the defense is just as stout, having surrendered fewer than eight points per outing.
The Auks’ offense moves through the air and on the ground, averaging nearly 30 points per game behind quarterback Miles Kempski and a group of weapons. Their defense is among the leaders in fewest points allowed in Class 2A.
This will be Archmere’s 15th championship game appearance, while the Bucs are in it for the 10th time. Each has won four state championships.
Friday, Dec. 1-Saturday, Dec. 2
Saint Mark’s and Salesianum at Mule Classic, Solanco High School, Quarryville, Pa. Hopes are high at both Saint Mark’s and Salesianum as the wrestling season gets going with an early trip to Lancaster County.
The Spartans’ resurgence continued last year under coach Cam Butler with a 10-3 overall record and a trip to the state dual-meet semifinals. Junior Luke Spoor is a defending individual champion, and sophomore Clifton Bakhsh reached the final in his weight class last spring. As a team, Saint Mark’s finished seventh overall in the individual championships.
The Sals are coming off their first dual state title since 1984, although both wrestlers who won individual weight classes have graduated. Freshman Dom Lucian, however, did win the individual championship last spring at 106 lbs. as an eighth-grader at Tower Hill School. They also return key members Leo Marini, James Miller and Andrew Semmel, so there’s plenty in the tank for coach Cam Davis.
Thursday, Nov. 30
Smyrna vs. Saint Mark’s, 4:30 p.m. at A.I. DuPont High School. For the third straight season, the Spartans get off to an early start at the annual Tiger Tip-Off. This year, they will face Smyrna in the first game.
Saint Mark’s is coming off a 14-8 season that included a trip to the second round of the state tournament. Lauren McDonald and Sophia Baffone look to be the top returning scorers, with veterans Danielle DiDomenico, Ava Frohnapfel and Sophia Karch providing support. Former Spartans standout Val Karch (née Speakman), a longtime assistant coach, takes over the top job.
Ursuline at Padua, 6:30 p.m. It’s a highly anticipated season for both the Raiders and Pandas, archrivals whose only meeting this season comes in the season opener on Broom Street.
Ursuline, under longtime coach John Noonan, reachd the state championship last year, where they fell to Sanford. This year, they have title aspirations again, and freshmen sensations Jezelle “GG” Banks and Taylor Brown have a year of high school experience under their belts. Those two are not alone. Emma Anthony provides outside shooting, and Skylar Bolden is a presence inside and outside. Senior Jazz Wesley will be an imposing sight in the paint.
At Padua, second-year coach Denise Sackett and the Pandas have state-tournament hopes. Grace Trerotola brings three-point shooting, and newcomer Abigail Grillo will add to the scoring potential. Four freshmen who saw varsity action last year are back. The team will expect more from Emma Mulvena, Molly Mager, Lilianna DiMarco and Riley Bransfield.
Friday, Dec. 1
Ss. Peter and Paul at Gunston, 5:30 p.m. The Sabres have a new look after a very successful 2022-23 season. Morgan Quade is the lone senior and Samantha Murphy the only junior on the 10-player roster. There are five freshmen and three sophomores who will be suiting up for coach Katie Murphy.
The Sabres will stay in Maryland for most of their games, but they will visit Delaware for four. One is an ESIAC conference game at Delmarva Christian in early February, and they have a tournament in mid-January at Greenwood Mennonite. They do visit New Castle County once, however, for a trip to Padua on Dec. 14.
Saturday, Dec. 2
Saint Mark’s vs. St. Georges or A.I. DuPont, time TBA