Darren Miller

Wilmington's Darren Miller runs during the first quarter of a home game against Conneaut (Ohio).

The Wilmington High football team continues to roll.

The Greyhounds scored early and often en route to a 51-14 District 10, nonregion home win over Conneaut (Ohio) on Saturday night. It was Salute to Service at Wilmington High as well.

“It was all about putting on a great event,” Wilmington coach Brandon Phillian said. “It was a great night. They are the true heroes of the country.

“(Saturday) night was more than just football. It was something bigger that took place.”

Special teams came up big on the game’s opening kickoff for the Greyhounds. A Spartans player fumbled on the visitors’ own 40.

Wilmington (5-0) recovered the loose ball and Caelan Bender capped the drive on a two-yard quarterback keeper. Daniel Hartwell drilled the extra point and the Greyhounds held a 7-0 lead. Hartwell made all six of his conversion kicks and Ethan Winters accounted for the other.

“Last year, maybe it wasn’t a point of strength,” Phillian said of Wilmington’s special teams unit. “This offseason, whenever we reflected on it, coach (Bob) Mitcheltree suggested we simplify our special teams. Let’s pick the ones we really like.

“That’s been our approach this season. The fact that we’ve done that simplification has made special teams a point of strength for us. To get a turnover like that was huge for us.”

The Spartans are now 3-1.

Hartwell’s ensuing kickoff was fielded by Conneaut player, who backtracked near the goal line, slipped and touched his knee down at the one.

Following a procedure penalty, the Greyhounds stuffed a running play in the end zone for a safety and a 9-0 lead.

“I think our defense has played terrific football all year long,” Phillian said. “Conneaut runs an outstanding offense and they run a challenging scheme to defend.

“The players did what they were supposed to do. That safety was huge just minutes into the game.”

The Greyhounds led 16-0 after one quarter and 30-7 at the half.

Wilmington scored seven touchdowns by six different players. Bender, Darren Miller, Ethan Susen, Shane Cox, Junior McConahy and Gage DeCaprio all scored. Susen reached the end zone twice.

“I think what makes us difficult to defend is we have threats at each one of our skill position spots,” Phillian said. “That kind of diversification offensively is what makes us a challenge to defend week in and week out.

“We believe we can go a number of different avenues to move the ball down the field.”

Wilmington returns to action at 7 p.m. Friday when it hosts Greenville (1-0, 3-2) in a Region 4-2A matchup.

Sports Writer

Ron Poniewasz Jr. is a sports writer at the New Castle News. Email him at rponiewasz@ncnewsonline.com.

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