IRVINGTON, NJ (updated Wednesday August 2, 8:45 p.m.) – The Irvington High School varsity football team needed to find an opponent for Sept. 22, after its game against Barringer was cancelled.
The Blue Knights not only found an opponent, it’s one of the best in the state of Delaware.
The Blue Knights will travel to Smyrna, Del. to face Smyrna High School on Friday night, Sept. 22
The Smyrna football team is a two-time defending state champion. They have won 22 straight games, winning their final 10 games in 2015 to finish 12-1 and going a perfect 12-0 in 2016, to capture back-to-back DIAA Division 1 championships.
According to new IHS athletic director Dr. John Taylor, Smyrna lost an opponent the same week that the Blue Knights’ game with Barringer was cancelled. Smyrna was trying to travel to Texas to play an opponent. The school raised money for the travel expenses, but fell short of its financial goal, said Taylor.
A few weeks ago, IHS second-year head coach Ashley Pierre approached Taylor to tell him that the Blue Knights were searching for an opponent. Pierre said he had contacts with Smyrna. Taylor phoned the AD from Smyrna, who agreed to the game with Irvington.
Taylor contacted the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) about figuring out the playoff power-point calculation for this particular game. Taylor was told that if the Blue Knights had only eight games, instead of nine, on their schedule, they would risk missing out on power points. Thus, playing Smyrna would prove beneficial and complete the nine-game regular season.
For playing an out-of-state opponent, the NJSIAA would assign the power points based on what that opponent would have been classified in New Jersey. Smyrna would be considered as a Group 4 school. Irvington also is a Group 4 school. Taylor was told by the NJSIAA that should the Blue Knights lose to Smyrna, they would still receive a significant amount of power points.
“It’s a win-win,” said Taylor.
Pierre also is thrilled to playing against Smyrna.
“We are excited,” he said. “One of the goals I had when taking over this program was to work to become a national program. We are making strides everyday to becoming great. We just have to take one step at a time.
“Smyrna has a great program and I believe has only lost one game in two or three years. We have some tough scrimmages and wanted to have tough games so we can be prepared for the long haul.”
The drive time to Smyrna from Irvington is close to three hours. The team will leave Irvington between 1:30 and 2 p.m. on game day to arrive in Smyrna, Del. close to 5 p.m. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.
The Blue Knights then will drive back home immediately after the game.
“We look forward to taking the trip to Delaware and enjoying the experience, while playing good football,” Pierre said. “Through coaching relationships, we were able to find this game and we are happy.”
Taylor said Barringer decided to cancel the game with Irvington, but the reason could not be ascertained.