Two perennial contenders, the Dover Senators (4-7) and the Polytech Panthers (3-6) have found themselves at the bottom of the Henlopen North division all season long.  With less than half the season to go, both must now dig deep if they hope to have a shot at the playoffs.

Both teams struggled out of the gates, digging themselves an early hole, Polytech dropped their first four contest, while Dover started out with three consecutive losses.

The Senators started out their season  with a tough stretch of games, falling to Newark, Sussex Tech, and Caesar Rodney who currently resides at the top of the standings in the Henlopen North division. Meanwhile, the Panthers who are used to hovering around the top of the division standings dropped three of their first four games to divisional opponents Sussex Tech, Sussex Central, and Cape Henlopen.

While the struggles were evident early on, both teams have turned a corner of sorts in their seasons and have started to get some wins under their belts.

Dover has won three of their last four games including a big win over their opponent Friday, Polytech along with victories over Appoquinimink and Cape Henlopen before dropping a two-point ball-game to an impressive St. Mark’s team in their last game.

The Panthers are coming off a win Saturday against Brandywine, going 3-2 in their last five games including two wins over divisional opponents Smyrna and Caesar Rodney.

For Dover, the game Friday is an important one having already won their previous matchup with the Panthers earlier in the season. 

Despite the tough season, the Senators have been able to move on from losses and focus on the game in front of them, a quality they believe can set them apart from the rest of the field coming down the home stretch.

“With our team it seems as if we don’t dwell on the last game,” said Dover Head Coach Stephen Wilson. “But our focus is always on the next game, that’s something I am impressed with about our team.”

The Senators have seven remaining conference games to go this season, and every one of them is important if they hope to get back into the playoff race.  With a young core making up a large part of the team this year, they’ve taken every game and every situation as a learning experience.

“This is all on the fly learning for our group,” said Wilson. “They have been in several situations during the season that we believe will help us down the road. We aren’t going to make excuses and continue to blame our youth. We prepare and work hard every day and that will not change. We will be ready and come to compete against (Polytech) as hard as we can.”

While it may be too early to call any game a must win, Friday’s contest for both the Senators and Panthers is as close as a contest gets to must win. 

The two teams will matchup on the hardwood Friday night, at Polytech starting at 6:00 p.m.