Downstate High School Football Champs Make History

Sussex Tech won their first State title this year, beating Salesianum 33 – 7 in the 2018 DIAA Division 1 high school football championship

It was a fascinating day for Delaware high school football, mainly because it was such a historic day.

For starters, Sussex Central won the Division I championship, the first football title the Golden Knights have won in the 47-year history of the tournament. And not only did the Knights win, they did so in grand fashion, blowing out perennial power Salesianum 33-7. The fact that Sussex Central won wasn’t mind-blowing, but that final score was. The Golden Knights ripped off two quick touchdowns to start the second half of what had been a close game (7-0) and Sallies, which relies heavily on its running game, was unable to open things up and get back in the game.

The heroes for Sussex Central were twin brothers Isaiah and Isaac Barnes, who hooked up on a 59-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Isaac to wide receiver Isaiah for the first TD of the game. And the Golden Knights completely outplayed the Sals the rest of the way, and as a Salesianum alumnus, that pains me to admit.

At the same time, as someone who usually roots for the underdog, it was fun seeing Sussex Central win its first championship – after all, Sallies has won seven state football championships and will doubtlessly win more. And for all we know, this might have been a lightning-in-a-bottle season for Sussex Central. Maybe they’ll put together a string of titles and maybe they’ll never get back here again. Either way, David slew Goliath and that’s always an interesting storyline.

What also made this an historic day was Woodbridge’s 26-3 victory over Friends for the Division II championship, a game that was largely decided by two Woodbridge interceptions that were returned for long touchdowns – 75 yards by Tajhon Hammond and 70 yards by Gabe Wescott – as well as a 51-yard run for a TD by Richard Massey on Woodbridge’s first play of the game.

That meant that two downstate teams won football championships in the same year and that, too, is rare. Unless you count Middletown and Smyrna as downstate teams – and we don’t – the last time two downstate teams won football titles in the same season was back in 2008, when Caesar Rodney won the Division I title and Milford won in Division II. In fact, the only other time two downstate won championships in the same year was all the way back in 1988, when Dover and Indian River walked away with the titles.

So, it’s only happened three times in 47 years. Now let’s see how long it takes for it to happen again.

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About the Contributor

Kevin Noonan

Kevin Noonan

Kevin Noonan has covered and commented on the Delaware sports scene for more than 30 years, everything from amateur recreation leagues and high schools to local colleges and the Philadelphia professional teams. He’s been voted Delaware Sportswriter of the Year multiple times and currently covers the Philadelphia Eagles for and teaches creative writing courses at Wilmington University.