39-13 win avenges Titans victory in 2017
DELHI – Everything is right again in Raider land now that Delhi has retrieved the annual Friday Night Lights Trophy.
The football team at Delhi District Secondary School ended its losing streak in the showcase game at two with a 39-13 win Friday night over the Holy Trinity Titans.
The win was especially sweet because it avenged the 34-7 drubbing the Raiders endured at the hands of Holy Trinity in the Friday Night event in 2017.
“The last two years were upsetting for us,” said Raiders quarterback and team MVP Jaxson Zurby. “So we did it for our coach (Dave Leatherland) and the 20 years he’s put into the position. We wanted our trophy back.”
Holy Trinity gave Delhi more of a fight than other teams this season. Still, the coaching staff let the Titans know afterward that Friday’s effort isn’t good enough.
“Just look at the score on the board,” coach Matt Martinow said. “I don’t know that there are too many positives to take away. Like we’ve been saying, the players have to show up for practice.
“We need commitment. That’s it right there – commitment to the team, commitment to the coaches, commitment to each other.”
No matter how you cut it, it was a picture-perfect night under the stars for football in Delhi.
From the Raiders’ standpoint, this game ticked all the boxes: Perfect weather, a huge crowd numbering 1,000-plus, and a strong showing by the home team.
“This is what we wanted Friday Night Lights to be when we conceived it,” coach Leatherland said. “This is what we envisioned. I know Holy Trinity brought a lot of their people down the road too and that’s what we like to see. This was a great community event. Friends and family – that’s what it’s all about.”
Leatherland made a point of getting every Raider that suited up onto the field. He knows this was a crowd-pleasing manoeuvre given the large number of family members that attend the game, which marks its 10th anniversary in 2020.
Jackson Smith of Holy Trinity left Delhi with good memories in tow. He took a pass from quarterback Jacob Foster late in the game and raced it into the end zone. For that and other exploits, Smith was named Holy Trinity’s game MVP.
“Offense and defence – he got it done,” said game announcer Scott Allgood.
This is Smith’s second game in Delhi under the lights and one of his most memorable as a football player.
“It’s a great experience,” Smith said. “Lots of people and lots of fun. It’s one of the better experiences of my high school career.”
With the win, Delhi improves its record this season to 3-0. Zurby opened the scoring for the Raiders with a touchdown and was good on five conversions. Zurby also kicked a field goal and a punt into the end zone for a rouge.
Liam McCormack scored two touchdowns for Delhi while single TD’s were credited to Jacob Schooley and Adam Leatherland.
Titans QB Foster opened the scoring for Holy Trinity on a keeper. The conversion, however, was no good.
Friday Night Lights sets up another classic showdown next weekend when the Raiders travel to Waterford to take on the Wolves – also 3-0 — in Saturday’s Pumpkin Bowl. This game will decide first place and home-field advantage for the playoffs. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. at Waterford District High School.
Friday’s game in Delhi happened hard on the heels of news that the football program at Valley Heights Secondary School abruptly folded this week. Both Martinow and Leatherland confirmed the report following Friday’s game.
“They were running out of players,” Leatherland said. “Players weren’t coming out to practice, and it was becoming a safety issue. The coaches have the players’ best interests at heart, so they did what they had to do.”
Going forward, the Norfolk schedule will be rejigged to reflect the four-team format. The five-team format to this point in the season saw a team each week sit out with a bye.