Burgos, Windsor key on and off the field for Caesar Rodney

CAMDEN — At first, Tony Burgos thought he might have made the wrong decision.

Before his freshman year at Caesar Rodney High, he had to choose between football and the marching band.

But now a senior offensive tackle and co-captain for the Riders, Burgos is glad he stuck with football.

“It was a tough decision,” said Burgos, who still plays trombone and euphonium in CR’s other bands. “(But) it definitely paid off.cr-burgos

“The team camaraderie I don’t think you can get this anywhere else. You compete so hard with your team each week.”

And Riders’ coach Dan Candeloro is certainly glad to have had Burgos around.

CR (0-1 Henlopen North, 0-5 overall), which plays at Sussex Central (1-1 North, 3-2 overall) today at 7 p.m., is still looking for its first win of the season. But Candeloro said it’s kids like Burgos that make it fun to come to practice every day.

A good student in the classroom, Burgos is also active in CR’s theater and music programs.

“He’s a 100-percent kid all the time,” said Candeloro. “He’s at practice on time, always ready, his grades are in order, you don’t have to worry about his behavior — just a good kid.”

Candeloro said Josh Windsor is the same kind of a kid. A junior playing his first season at the varsity level, he’s stepped up as the Riders’ starting middle linebacker and leading tackler.

Windsor is also a good student. His goal is to be a math teacher someday.

“We were kind of keeping our eye on him, hoping he’d do what he ended up doing,” said Candeloro. “He’s just a tough nut, throwback-of-kid. He gets dinged up and gets right back in there. He’s a good leader in the school.

“He’s a little undersized but just goes all the time, 100 percent. He’s become a defensive leader for us.”

For Windsor, just playing at the varsity level is a dream come true for him. He admits playing in front of a big crowd took some getting used to.

Windsor’s first varsity game was under the lights at perennial state power Middletown. He was on the kickoff return team to open the contest.

“The wait for them to kick it lasted hours,” joked Windsor. “I just sat there waiting. I was like, ‘This is it, this is my time.’cr-windsor

“I’ve always dreamed of playing on this field. And, when I got on there, I couldn’t believe it. Once I watched the film, I’m like, ‘That’s me.’ … This is something I’ve always wanted and thought I would get it someday. But it’s really surreal for me.”

Both Burgos and Windsor agree that it’s not easy juggling school work and playing a sport like football.

Burgos is interested in majoring in both a science and music in college. He’s earned academic All-State and all-Henlopen Conference honors.

“It’s pretty tough,” said the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Burgos. “I don’t get home until six or seven and then I have hours of AP homework. You definitely have to be good at time management. I push through.”

Windsor can relate.

Along with school and football, he works a part-time job. Windsor’s father, Scott, is a science teacher at Sussex Tech.

“Every day it’s 7 a.m., get home at 10,” said Windsor. “So it’s rough. Homework, I get it done. That’s the grind — school, football, work.

“Not everyone always has your back but you know your family does,” Windsor said about his motivation. “Family’s important. This family (CR’s football team), too, always has my back.”

Of course, both Burgos and Windsor are disappointed that the Riders haven’t won a game yet.

It’s been a tough stretch for CR’s proud football program, which is now 4-21 over the last two-and-a-half seasons. But both players say nobody’s given up on the hope that the next game will be different.

Windsor said he knows there’s a tradition the current Riders are trying to uphold.

“The guys that played before us, they used to give it their all every week,” said Windsor. “It’s shoes you have to fill. They’re big shoes and you just have to keep working. Every week is the week that we think we’re going to win. The confidence never goes down.”

“It’s not easy to deal with,” said Burgos. “Of course you want your team to do well and you want to do well with your team. But getting the lessons that can come from failure I feel have been very important — like sticking together as a team and not disbanding during tough times.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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