CR’s Hudson is leading the way

Caesar Rodney High senior lineman Kevin Hudson (64) likes leading running backs up the field. Delaware State News file photo

CAMDEN — It may seem like Kevin Hudson’s destiny was always to be a lineman.

But there was a time when the Caesar Rodney High senior was actually a running back.

Of course, he was only five years old and playing Pop Warner football at the time.

“It was fun,” said Hudson, who figures he was a running back for about three years. “(But) then that growth spurt hit. They were like, ‘Oh man, you’re too big now. You’ve got to move to the line.’

“At first I was a little in shock. But once I learned that, on the line I get to hit every play, I loved it.”

Now standing 6-foot, 270 pounds, Hudson seems like a natural up front for the Riders.

He’s one of a handful of two-way linemen who don’t expect to leave the field much tonight when CR hosts Sussex Central at 7 p.m. Both teams won their Henlopen North openers a week ago.

Last fall, Hudson was a first-team all-Henlopen North pick on offense and a second-teamer on defense. It doesn’t hurt that he’s also a talented wrestler, with a pair of state titles and placing at Beast of the East on his career resume.

A team captain last year, Riders’ coach Dan Candeloro said Hudson has stepped up even more as a leader this season.

“We’re just happy to be moving in the right direction,” said Candeloro. “And he’s kind of leading it on the field. We’ve been kind of missing that the last few years.”

The athleticism it takes to wrestle usually makes big guys like Hudson good football linemen as well.

“Just the leverage piece of it,” said Candeloro. “Moving your body in space, getting your body in the right positions, knowing leverage points. … all that stuff in wrestling really just carries over to football and vice versa.”

Not surprisingly, Hudson usually runs into some of the guys he wrestles against when he’s on the football field.

Hudson’s abilities as a two-time state champion wrestler for the Riders help him on the football field.

“Everybody I wrestle is a ‘D’ lineman or an offensive lineman,” said Hudson. “So at every school I see somebody I know. We chat a little bit and then we just play football.”

The other CR linemen playing on both sides of the ball are James Ewell, Wesley Keeler and Mahlon Dyer.

That’s no easy task these days with high school athletes in Delaware having to wear masks while they compete. Hudson said he definitely noticed a difference playing with a mask on last week when the Riders opened the season with a 14-0 victory at Sussex Tech.

He estimates he was on the field about 95 percent of the time last week.

“It was totally different,” said Hudson. “It’s definitely different playing with a mask on your face stamina-wise. But I think they do a good job of giving us two minutes on timeouts for extra water. Mentally and physically I think we were prepared for it.”

“There were times you could see him digging a little deeper,” said Candeloro. “But it probably would have been heck pulling him off the field. He hung in there and worked hard.”

Hudson knows his collegiate athletic future lies in wrestling. He’s planning on majoring in criminal justice with an eye on being a policeman someday.

But he’ll miss playing football after this year. There’s something about the sport he really loves — especially playing on the line.

“I like the contact every play,” said Hudson. “I like knowing that I have a chance to lead that running back into the end zone. I have a chance to block that guy in front of me so my quarterback can make a pass. I like that a lot.

“I love getting my hand in the dirt and playing football.”

Notes

Both the Sussex Tech-Polytech and Woodbridge-Milford games, slated for tonight, were canceled because of positive COVID-19 tests at Sussex Tech and Woodbridge. … CR has lost its last two meetings with Sussex Central. … Smyrna has won five games in a row over Cape Henlopen. … First State Military hosts Conrad on Saturday at 11 a.m. in only the third game played on its Clayton campus. … Henlopen teams went 1-1 against schools outside the conference last week.