Covering High School Sports in America
Red Lion Christian Academy (Bear, Del.) tabbed one of the state's most successful coaches to take over its news-making football program.

File photo by Jim Stout

Red Lion Christian's David Sills.

The small, private school hired Dave Needs Sr. as its new football coach Dec. 31, a move designed to help the Lions return to their previous state roots and usher in a new era for the program. Needs is well-known in the state's coaching ranks, having guided Mount Pleasant (Wilmington, Del.) and Caravel (Bear, Del.) to various postseason success. He replaces Dwayne Thomas.

Red Lion Christian school leader Rev. Chuck Betters told Delaware Online that the 66-year-old Needs was hired because, "He is of like-mind philosophically and theologically with us," while declaring that the school intends to comply fully with rules set forth by the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association.

Betters took over Red Lion Christian in November and immediately said the school would abandon its pursuit of becoming a national football power. That pursuit led to financial woes, in addition to increased interest surrounding the program.

At that time, Betters also asked for the resignations of the football coaching staff. He also told Delaware Online that, "I don't envision us going all over the nation to play football."

This past summer Red Lion Christian had fully embarked on its plan to become a national power after it received associate status from the DIAA in July. That allowed Red Lion Christian to offer financial aid to athletes, start practices earlier than the rest of the state's schools, as well as hold spring practices. As part of the agreement, Red Lion was not allowed to play against in-state schools or compete for a state title.

The concerted effort received attention from the likes of USA Today as well as from the National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations.

Red Lion Christian also was in the news in November of 2010 when it removed itself from the state playoffs, to address several concerns that were being investigated by the DIAA.

What perhaps drew the most attention, though, is when Lions quarterback David Sills received a scholarship offer from the University of Southern California when he was a seventh-grader.

In his recently completed freshman season, the 6-foot-2, 170-pounder completed 66 percent (165-for-250) of his passes for 2,340 yards, with 28 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Red Lion Christian finished 5-5 this past season, playing teams from five different states, including fifth-ranked Good Counsel (Onley, MD).

Sills has not commented on his status with the school, although his father, David Sills IV, told Delaware Online in November after Betters took over, "Like anyone else, I'll wait to see what comes of it."