Perseverance pays off for Yellowjackets senior lineman
It came as no surprise that the consensus No. 1 team in the state came into Newark last Friday night and easily handled the 2-6 Yellowjackets, just as the Middletown Cavaliers have with the majority of their opponents this season.
Middletown’s only loss came in Week 7 against IMG Academy, one of the top teams in the country. Last Friday night, the Cavaliers came out of the gate a bit slow as one might expect after returning from their trip to Florida, but the Cavaliers quickly got back on track and cruised to a 41-3 win.
Despite Newark’s struggles this season in the wins column, when the coaches look back on the season, they will find several positives that came out of the 2018 campaign. One of those is certain to be having the opportunity to see senior lineman Nate Sercejl earn his way into the starting lineup midway through the season and shine once there.
The coaching staff spoke highly of Sercejl early in the season, saying that he is “great for the program” and always works hard during practice, most notably as a member of the demonstration team. The past two weeks, Sercejl got the experience of practicing against the demonstration team and impressed the coaches enough to earn a start in the Yellowjackets’ Week 7 game against Appoquinimink.
“I went into practice every day knowing that I might not be able to play that much on Fridays, so I made practice as fun as possible for myself,” said Sercejl, who, for as much fun as he has in practice, is serious in the classroom and as a result carries the highest GPA on the team. “I would try to be the first one off the ball, or hustle to the ball during scout team defense because that would help the team for the game at the end of the week.”
Sercejl’s performance in his first start was good enough to earn a second one against top-ranked Middletown, which boasts one of the best defenses in the state.
“Nate has done a great job physically and mentally holding his own against varsity defenses,” fellow lineman Alex Aviles pointed out. “He’s been patient waiting for an opportunity to show what he can do and has responded well to being thrown into the fire midseason.”
Now that he’s entrenched into a starting role, Sercejl admitted to adjusting his approach to practice and how he will mentally approach the remaining games.
“Finally being in the huddle on Friday nights makes it very important that you pay attention in practice so you can play mistake-free in the game,” Sercejl explained. “Playing without worry of making a mistake makes it easier to give it your all every play.”
Now that he’s starting on Friday nights, Sercejl plans to enjoy every minute of the final two games of his high school career.
“Finishing the season knowing that this is the last time I’m going to play football is going to impact how I play,” said Sercejl, who plans to attend college and major in sports management. “[I want to] end the season on a good note and a couple of wins, because the team has dealt with a lot of adversity this year.”
Division 2 foes remain
Newark wraps up its 2018 campaign on the road against a couple of Division 2 opponents when they travel to Baynard Stadium for two consecutive weeks to face Delaware Military Academy and St. Elizabeth.
DMA (5-3) is riding a twogame winning streak and sitting on the fence right now as to whether or not it will qualify for the eight-team Division 2 tournament. The Seahawks are approaching this Week 9 game as a huge opportunity to earn a win and the six playoff points that would come with beating a Division 1 opponent versus just one point if they were to lose.
The Seahawks feature a multi-dimensional offense led by senior Corahn Alleyne, considered by many to be the most dangerous player in the state. A 2017 all-state selection on both sides of the ball and special teams, Alleyne has scored just about every way possible during his career and is so lethal on punt and kickoff returns that opponents have stopped giving him the opportunity. The last team that thought they could stop him on a kickoff paid for it as Alleyne returned it 80 yards for a touchdown in DMA’s 34-24 loss to Archmere in Week 6.
“We’re going to need to contain him from the outside and push [his runs] back in,” Newark senior captain Dayton Swanhart said. “I believe our inside guys can make plays for sure, we just need to give them the opportunity.”
Junior quarterback Joe Deal and sophomore wide receiver Dior Boyd give DMA an aerial assault that the Seahawks haven’t had in recent years, making them even more difficult to defend. Speaking of defense, in its five wins, DMA’s defensive unit has given up just 20 total points.
Kickoff on tonight is at 7 p.m. at Baynard Stadium.
The Buzz from the Hive will be posted online each Monday morning during the high school football season and also in Friday’s print edition. It will include some game analysis and exclusive quotes from Newark High football coach Barry Zehnder and select members of the team after they’ve had a chance to watch game film, evaluate their performance, and begin preparation for the next game.