At the start of the season, Dover was one of the dark horse selections on the gridiron.

After eight games, the Senators have proven that prediction correct. They’ve put themselves in good position with two games remaining to reach the DIAA Division I Football tournament for the first time since the 2013 season.

Having suffered defeat just once, Dover has shot to the top of the standings on the back of some impressive statistics, standout performers and marquee victories.

Two weeks ago, the Senators tamed the mighty Smyrna Eagles, Division I champs each of the last three seasons. Dover took an early advantage, only to see the second half turn into a shootout which the Senators won, 46-38.

Dover was able to out-duel the powerhouse Eagles thanks to big nights from Jordan Magee and Javon Peace, something which has been commonplace throughout the season. Quarterback Magee had a fantastic night, throwing three touchdown passes, connecting on one with Peace while also finding Raekwon Jackson and James Ashley through the air.

Meanwhile, Peace finished the game with four total touchdowns, three on offense and one on defense. Along with a 23-yard pass from Magee, Peace had two rushing scores, including a 26- yard scamper. He also came up with one of the game’s biggest defensive plays, scooping up a Smyrna fumble at the goal line before taking it 99 yards for the TD.

If they hadn’t already, Dover and the duo of Magee and Peace have certainly grabbed the attention of the rest of the state as the playoff near.

“They have two of the best athletes in the state as cornerstones of their offense, and they do a great job of getting the ball in their hands,” said Smyrna head coach Mike Judy. “Dover has put together a fantastic season. They have dangerous athletes on the field and are playing with confidence.”

Even with their hot start, the victory over Smyrna is the one that stands out on Dover’s schedule, though the Senators are taking it in stride.

“Obviously it’s nice to see how we stack up against one of the elite programs in the state, but this is just another game to us,” said Dover head coach Rudy Simonetti. “Smyrna is an excellent program. Coach Judy and his staff do a tremendous job there, and obviously they have some studs on that team.”

Last week, the Senators kept rolling, cruising to a 55-0 win over Polytech, pushing Dover to a 7-1 mark with just two games to go.

While the season has gone about as well as a team could hope for Dover so far, they remain focused on the task at hand, the next game.

“We don’t worry about our capabilities so much. We take it one game at a time and focus on our opponent for that particular week,” Simonetti said. “That’s part of our all-in culture here.”

Over the final two weeks of the season, Dover will look to keep pace with Sussex Central in the Henlopen North. While the Golden Knights hold the tie-breaker against the Senators due to their victory over Dover earlier this year, the Senators plan to finish the season strong regardless as they face Cape Henlopen this week before their home finale next week against Caesar Rodney.