A.I. duPont’s sagging attendance turned them into a Division II football team this year, but they say they’re more concerned on just getting back on the winning side of .500 in 2017.
The Tigers finished 4-6 in their final two years as a Division I/Flight A team, before the conference switch based on September 30 enrollment dropped them and Mount Pleasant down to Division II with Hodgson and St. Georges moving up.
Defensive End Andrew Harp downplayed the move.
“I’m looking forward to it. When I heard about it, it was nothing I was upset about, it’s just life.”
Head Coach Zeb Blum said Flight B is a label, but isn’t the most important one to his team.
“You can’t say that we’re any different. We know full well there’s a tremendous in front of us, both in our conference and outside it. If we don’t play our best football, and do our best job, we’ll have the same success we’ve had. We have to work on playing our best football, whoever is in front of us.”
Helping them play their best football will be returning QB Chad Jones, who has been working hard in the weight room and Blum said is now the 3rd or 4th strongest player on the team, and a leader, even as a junior.
“He’s led by example. The guys around him respect him. He’s kind of an old man in many ways, because of his knowledge and how much respect he commands.”
Blum added Jones should have some strong weapons around him.
“We have a huge group of junior skill guys, James Naylor, Jamir Dantley, and LeRoy Lynch, and Maxwell Johnson. They guys who are very good athletes and have progressed well.
Perhaps the biggest key to success for A.I. will come on the offensive line, where they return four players, and Blum has put the pressure on the group to grow.
“It’s going to take a lot of work, but we’re returning four guys on that line that got to grow. They really got tested last year, and got beat up as sophomores and weren’t quite physically strong enough they weren’t mentally confident to do a lot of things we needed them to do, but sometimes the best thing to do is to get thrown into the fire. They worked hard in the weight room and they don’t want to get beat up again.”
A.I. duPont’s start in Division II actually begins with a pair of Division I home games against Polytech and the Charter School of Wilmington. Wins in those games could go a long way to getting them back into the postseason.
After a tough test at Lake Forest, they’ll open Flight B play against fellow-dropping Division I squad Mount Pleasant. That 3:30pm start is the only non-Friday 7pm game, making it a rare All-Friday Division II schedule.