Indian River senior Jamie Jarmon may have accounted for more than 50 touchdowns and well over 3,000 all-purpose yards this season, but he and his coaches are quick to give credit where credit is due.
To win a state championship, as the Indians did with a 35-13 win over Caravel Academy Dec. 3, it takes all 11 players on the field. Without a strong offensive line, Jarmon wouldn't have the time to allow his receivers to get open or break through himself for 20-, 30-, or 40-yard runs. Without a strong defense, Jarmon's scores may not have been able to cruise to double-digit wins in all 12 games this season. Without experienced coaches like head coach Ray Steele, offensive coordinator Paul Kmetz and defensive coordinator Mike Norton - all of whom have coached 25 years or longer - Jarmon wouldn't have the knowledge to run the offense to perfection week in and week out.
So after the Indians capped their undefeated season on a chilly December night at Delaware State University's Alumni Stadium in Dover, coaches and players were quick to spread the love around.
“What makes it special is that we've obviously got one super athlete and three or four really gifted ones, but we've got a lot of just average kids that don't play average. They think they're pretty good too,” said Norton, who won state titles as head coach at Laurel in 1986 and 1987. “They certainly came through for us, and they have all year.”
Norton's defense was often overlooked this season. Entering the state final, it only allowed an average of 13 points per game, which was one of the best in the state. When times got tough this season, Norton said his guys were there to pick up the slack.
"The offense gets a lot of the glory, but we've got to come in every once in a while to clean up the mess,” he said. “Every once in awhile the offense will bog down and we need to step up. We had some kids that stepped up. They came to practice, they listened, they believed in their coaches and they didn't care who got the credit.”
IR's prolific offense was set up by Kmetz, who ran a similar set with his son, Nick, four years ago. This iteration featured a no-huddle approach that had Jarmon calling the plays at the line. From early on, Kmetz said, his players fell in love with the game plan.
“The first time we ran it, they loved it,” he said. “Every one of these kids feels part of that offense. That was the key to it. The line bought into it, the wing backs bought into it, the receivers bought into it.”
The line, in particular, were the unsung heroes of the season. With three underclassmen on the line, each had to spend a considerable amount of time learning Jarmon's signals for assignments in order to make the no-huddle, speed offense work. The line helped the Indians' offense gain 397 rushing yards against Caravel, while giving Jarmon plenty of time to drop back and make good passing decisions.
“They're hardworking kids who stay after practice; they run extra and they learn their assignments,” Steele said. “It was tough on them early because … they need to know all that stuff and we can't afford a mistake up front or the whole play gets blown up. Just a tremendous bunch of kids with a great work ethic.”
In addition to Jarmon's 130 yards rushing and three touchdowns, junior back Aaron Moore amassed 178 yards on the ground with a touchdown of his own. Often overshadowed by Jarmon's monster numbers, Moore has had a solid year too.
“Aaron is a phenomenal running back,” Jarmon said. “He doesn't get enough credit. He's a great runner, he runs the ball hard, he works hard in practice, he's a great kid and people should look out for him and Jalen [Griffen] next year.”
Steele admitted early on this season he didn't know how good his team was. But after a 14-point win over rival Delmar and another solid win over Lake Forest, he knew his squad had a chance to do something special. The Indians are the third downstate team in four years to win the Division II state championship, a title that means so much to not only the team but the community as well.
“When we left Indian River, the streets going through Dagsboro were lined with signs and honking horns and fire trucks; I mean the entire community was out there,” Steele said. “It just lifted their spirits. When they got here they were ready to play because they knew everybody was behind them.”
When the Indians returned to Dagsboro, the same streets were filled again with proud parents, classmates and community members cheering on their state champions.