CR defense riding high after shutout

CAMDEN — Josh Windsor saw Sussex Tech send a man in motion and immediately began barking out orders.

The senior Caesar Rodney High linebacker shifted the defense line and adjusted the coverage in the secondary.

Then, he turned to outside linebacker Jordan Allen to tell him to now blitz. Allen rushed into the backfield and stopped the ensuing play behind the line of scrimmage.

“He was listening and he came in and made the play for us,” Windsor said. “It was a big play for us on third down and really got our defense sparked up which helped us the rest of the game I think.”

That’s just a sample of what Windsor does as one of the main play-callers on defense for the Riders. Windsor and junior linebacker Jackson Rall are in charge of all audibles and plays like those helped the Rider defense to a 15-0 shutout victory over Sussex Tech last week.

The Riders come into tonight’s matchup against Brandywine High (7 p.m.) at 4-3 overall with strong momentum after the shutout.

“Zero points on the board looks pretty good,” Windsor said.

And the Rider defense has been coming up big most of the year. Caesar Rodney has held opponents to 20 points or less in five of its seven games this season.

CR’s Josh Windsor makes a tackle in a game last season.

Last week though was the first time the Riders kept their opponents off the scoreboard.

Windsor and Rall both got their start playing linebacker last season. They were part of a young team which went 1-9, but with another year of experience under their belts, the Riders are over .500 this late in the season for the first time since 2013.

Coach Dan Candeloro credits a lot of the defensive improvement to the two linebackers.

“Jackson is one of those guys who just knows how to get through the line,” Candeloro said. “He’s not the biggest guy out there but he just finds a way. We haven’t had a player like that in a few years.”

“Then Josh, he’s the quarterback of the defense,” he added. “With how complex offenses are nowadays, you can’t just call a base defense and send them out there. You have to have multiple audibles and adjustments ready to go and that’s all on Josh. He does a great job out there and has been a real leader for this team.”

Of course knowing all the adjustments doesn’t happen overnight.

William Penn’s quarterback Jahsan Gildersleeve gets pressure from CR’s Jeremiah Brown, left, and Jackson Rall at CR on Friday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

Rall said a lot of studying has gone into it. The Riders start fresh every week when preparing for a new opponent, designing audibles specific for their opposition.

“It’s a lot of film watching on Monday and Tuesday,” Rall said. “Then we hit the field Wednesday and try to put everything in place. Then we just go from there.”

“I think we’re a lot more focused this year,” Rall added. “We’ve been working hard in the offseason. This really all started over the summer. I think there’s a better sense of dedication.”

Windsor, who also is CR’s long-snapper, said he has adjustments on his mind as soon as he sees what formation the offense comes out in. He is looking at how many running backs are in the backfield, if the line has a tight end or two on it and where the wide receivers are lined up.

That will tell him where the shift the line and what coverage the secondary should be playing.

“I try to make sure everyone is in the right position so they can make the right play,” Windsor said. “It’s tough but I’m a leader out there. It teaches you a lot about growing up and being a man. I love what I’m doing out here.”

And there’s a little extra motivation for the Riders to force some turnovers.

For every turnover they get, the defense is allowed to eat some fruit snacks from assistant coach Brian Berns’ office.

“That gets all the guys hyped up because we want that rubber fruit,” Windsor said with a laugh. “We take a lot of pride in our defense and we know the community loves to see us play great defense. That’s something we take seriously every week.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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