Home Local Sports Numbers, expectations rise for St. Elizabeth football

Numbers, expectations rise for St. Elizabeth football

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Marvin Dooley (back to camera) has gotten the Vikings' attention as he enters his second season as coach. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

What in Sam Hill is going on at St. Elizabeth? In Marvin Dooley’s second year as head coach, the Vikings have just about doubled the number of boys on the roster. There are 51 this season, compared with the 26 who finished in 2018. Twenty are freshman, which means the Vikings are setting the foundation for the future, but they are also very much thinking about the present.

Dooley said he worked the room during lunches, talking to boys who may have never played football before or had stopped when they reached high school. He also had a large number of freshmen come out.

St. Elizabeth, coming off a 5-5 season, practices kickoff returns earlier this summer at Canby Park. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

“But with that, my expectations rise,” said Dooley, entering his second season on Cedar Street.

Spirits are high in VKNation. St. Elizabeth finished last year at 5-5, the program’s best showing since 2012 when they went 6-4 and last made the Division II playoffs.

“Year two, tons of success,” said senior running back and linebacker Sam Janicki. “We have tons of surprises coming this year, tons of changes. Everything’s going to be done different. It’s a new year, a new team, a new St. E’s. New helmets, new everything.”

A year with Dooley in charge should pay dividends, according to the coach. “First off, you need talent. We have young talent, so there’s going to be some bumps in the road. But a year of knowing the system, the terminology, helps a lot. The only thing is we’re really young this year.

“The biggest thing is a whole year of preparing for the season.”

Senior C.J. Small comes off the baseball diamond to take the quarterback duties. His primary weapons on offense will be Tom Mosley and Luke Moyer out of the backfield, while Luke Schiavoni presents a big target at tight end. The Vikings will have a big offensive line, including transfers Gavin McCarthy and Lorestee Handy, along with the returning players.

“This is the best depth I’ve had on the offensive line, even my last three years at William Penn,” Dooley said.

Schiavoni said the entire feeling around the program is different. Dooley keeps the players focused on the right things, like their academics and making themselves better athletes.

“He’s really changed a lot of things,” Schiavoni said. “He’s never really let anything too unnecessary happen. He’s focused on working hard, trying to win football games.”

Even the helmets have changed, as St. Elizabeth is back to a maroon helmet after many years wearing gold.

“I think the maroon’s really bringing something back. Like Coach Dooley said, they used to wear maroon back in the day. I think it’s just showing we’re a whole new team,” Schiavoni said.

The Vikings, without their normal home at Baynard Stadium, have moved their home games to the turf at Caravel Academy. They open the season with a pair of home games, including one against Catholic rival Saint Mark’s. They also host Conrad and Indian River, and they visit Tower Hill, Delaware Military, Archmere and Caravel.

Janicki said every game is important, but he’s looking forward to week two against Saint Mark’s. “We haven’t beaten them in all three years that I’ve been here, and that’s a red dot on the schedule.”

Dooley said a tough schedule will help St. Elizabeth should they reach the postseason. And that is the goal.

“I want to win now. I think we have enough talent, if we play well and don’t get hurt. I don’t put it on wins. I want to get in the playoffs,” he said.

Home games (to be played at Caravel Academy) in CAPS

Sept. 5, 7:30 p.m.: CHRISTIANA

Sept. 14, 7:30 p.m.: SAINT MARK’S

Sept. 21, 3 p.m.: Tower Hill

Sept. 27, 7 p.m.: Delaware Military

Oct. 4, 7:30 p.m.: Laurel

Oct. 11, 7:30 p.m.: TATNALL

Oct. 19, 2 p.m.: Archmere

Oct. 25, 7:30 p.m.: CONRAD

Nov. 1, 7:30 p.m.: INDIAN RIVER

Nov. 8, 7 p.m.: Caravel