Delaware Military Academy lineman Christopher Boc knows the reputation of his team: regular season success, and then an immediate postseason dismissal.
That’s been the formula the past four years for the Seahawks, including two straight games where they were the higher seeds playing at neutral sites due to the school not having an on-campus stadium.
That has changed this year, as Fusco Memorial Field has risen on the backside of DMA’s campus between Newport and Wilmington, allowing the school to play under the bright Friday Night Lights for the first time walking distance from their school.
Boc said not only getting to the postseason, but finally winning some games, would go a long way to repairing some of the doubt about the quality of the four-year playoff run.
“I think it would be a tremendous step. I think more kids would come to DMA. They see you go to the playoffs and lose in the first round for four years, it shows kids they don’t have the talent to be there. I think a state championship helps a school by building more confidence to students in the school, because they know they can do it.”
To get DMA to the postseason again, they’ll do so without all-state running back Corahn Alleyne, who was the major focus of the offense, defense, and special teams over the past 4 years, and also under new leadership as Brian McArdle replaced Mike Ryan as head coach.
McArdle said his philosophy as coach is pretty straight-forward.
“When I took over, I decided we would get back to the philosophy of DMA. I took a page out of the DMA handbook talking about discipline, self-control, self-esteem, and leadership, so we’re just trying to build those four key foundations.”
Part of McArdle’s foundation on the line will be Christopher Boc, who didn’t start until his junior year, but said practices as an underclassman had him ready for big stages.
“Four big guys were T.J. Thomas, Hunter Balback, Brandon Kessler, and Jacob Hudson. They really pushed me because they were so much bigger and stronger, they teach you that even if you can beat them up sometimes, even if you’re not starting on red-hat defense [offensive player switching to defense for a drill], you can go out there in your next year and beat kids up on the line.
In an era where many athletes just focus on one sport, Boc was inspired by his brother Nick to take up wrestling when he got to high school. He finished second at the Canal Classic, and made the quarterfinals of the DIAA championships at Heavyweight.
Boc said there’s plenty of similarities between combat on the mat and in the football trenches.
“I think it helps my conditioning out tremendously. There’s not a lot of running in wrestling, but the conditioning you get physically helps you out In football because it’s a different type of situation you’re in, your muscles get sore all the time and you learn to fight through the pain when things aren’t going your way. It’s the same thing on the football field.”
Dealing with the pain is one thing, but Christopher said there’s parts of his game he hopes to grow in his final high school season.
“A trait would be physicality. I don’t think I was physical enough on the line. So I think bringing physicality will help. And the other thing is speed. I need speed because there’s a lot of guys who weigh a lot less than me, are a lot smaller, and are a lot faster. So I need more speed and quickness so I can blow them off the line.”
If Boc can open those holes, it won’t be Corahn Alleyne sprinting through them, but rather a committee of tailbacks including sophomore Devon Green, who Boc thinks can fill some pretty big shoes very capably.
“He’s a beast, and he might even better than Corahn. He’s got the power and I think the speed. He’s very short, so he has a very low center of gravity, so it’s a lot harder for defenders to bring him down. He’s very elusive with the ball, he’s got a great heart, and he runs every well.”
DMA also welcomes back quarterback Joseph Deal, who threw 2 touchdown passes in their final win of the season last year over neighborhood rival Conrad.
It’s a group new Coach McArdle says will be tested by his staff.
“We’re always talking about raising the expectation, raising the bar. We just started this camp about setting a high level of perfection, and meeting that perfection. As the season goes on, it will always be about raising that bar. What has history shown? We’ve lost in the first round, but it’s meeting that bar, and raising that level.”
That level will be tested, as they face Milford, Saint Elizabeth, Caravel, and Cape Henlopen in a strong out-of-conference schedule. If they can survive that, they hope the elusive victory in round 1 could just be the beginning.
DMA NOTES: DMA will host 4 games at Fusco Memorial Field, with the first game taking place on September 20 during Week 3 against Red Lion, before hosting Saint Elizabeth, Archmere, and Saint Mark’s… McArdle points out sophomore FB Dominic Sama. freshman RB Dha-Feir Watts, and junior RB/LB John Maichle should join Green in making an impact in the Seahawks’ backfield… Previous Head Coach Mike Ryan was recently hired as the Athletic Director at Delaware Tech.