Homecoming celebrations can mean any number of things to a high school football program.
It can be a chance to draw extra motivation, enjoy one of the bigger crowds to play in front of through the season or, as Sussex Central Head Coach John Wells said, it can be a distraction.
"I always have to warn the kids about this distraction," Wells said in reference to his preparation for the Golden Knights' homecoming game against Smyrna High School (3-4, 0-4) on Oct. 26.
"They can get caught up in the pep rally and the daily events through the week…but you have to make sure they work hard in practice," he said.
Those distractions didn't end up being much of a problem for Central (6-2, 4-1) as it dominated and shut out Smyrna, 35-0, for its second straight win.
Wells said he was certainly worried about the homecoming distractions just as much as usual this year but knew he had a good group of players that wouldn't let it affect them.
"I thought the kids did a great job on keeping their focus," he said. "I want them to partake in some of the things that are fun for their high school career, but don't indulge so much that they lose focus or get worn out. They did a good job of that."
Central stormed out to a 28-0 lead in the first half on the strength of touchdowns runs by sophomore Shawn Savage of two and 29 yards, as well as rushing scores by senior running back Gregory Taylor, 36 yards, and senior running back Keith Jones, two yards.
Early in the third quarter, senior quarterback Jacob Miller connected with junior wide receiver Tarez White for a 23-yard score, putting the 35-point running clock mercy rule into effect for the remainder of the game.
The win kept the Golden Knights just one game behind Caesar Rodney High School (6-2, 4-0) in the standings with two games left to play, meaning at Henlopen Conference North title is still within reach so long as the Knights get a little help.
Wells said with the conference standings so tight, and only two extra spots up for grabs for the tournament, his players need to start treating every game like the playoffs have already started.
"It's going to be tight," he said. "We have to play every game like it's the playoffs. We're playing playoff games now, because one mistake from here on out can cost you. We're focused on one game at a time and letting our players know the ramifications of each game."