From the sports editor: Haynes holds special place with friends

DOVER — Mike Brewer laughs at the memory of it.

When he was little, he spent so much time with Troy Haynes that people used to think they were really brothers.

“People actually thought his mom was my mom,” said Brewer. “I was always over at their house, every day.”

Mike Brewer

When the two friends started playing football together, years later at Woodbridge High, it only seemed to make their bond stronger.

“When either one of us would get a big hit laid on us,” said Brewer, “we would go back to the huddle and laugh at each other about it and make fun of each other.”

It hasn’t been easy for Brewer and the legion of other people who called Haynes their friend to laugh this week.

The shocking news came this weekend that the former Woodbridge star quarterback had died after battling pancreatic cancer for the past five months. He was just 19.

Shymere Vessels

While plenty of people got to know of and about Haynes after the ‘FightLike4’ campaign took off, guys like Brewer and his Wesley College teammate, Shymere Vessels, are among those taking Haynes’ loss the hardest.

More than just playing football with him at Woodbridge, they grew up with Haynes.

“Troy, he was more than a friend and brother to me,” said Vessels. “He represented, I guess you could say, hope for the community. He enlightened a whole lot of people.

“Not only did he bring the whole community together, he brought pretty much the whole state together. It was Troy just being Troy. He was just coming in and giving everything that he’s got, with a smile on his face. That smile can go like a thousand miles. You can never forget it.”

When Brewer and Vessels approached Chip Knapp about doing something for Haynes at the Wolverines’ home game with Rowan on Saturday, the Wesley coach was all for it.

Brewer, who’s is wearing jersey No. 4, will be a captain for the game. He and Vessels will take a ‘FightLike4’ shirt with them for the coin toss before the contest.

Knapp felt a connection with Haynes, too, after working with him in the off-season a few years ago.

“Right away, you could tell he was a great kid,” said Knapp. “He was very coachable, a hard worker — all the things that football coaches love in a player. A great personality.

“I just remember thinking, this is one of the reasons why Woodbridge is so successful — guys like Troy.”

Haynes’ memory won’t be far away from the Woodbridge community on Friday night when the unbeaten Blue Raiders (4-0) host Archmere (4-0) at 7 p.m.

As much as his friends want to help keep Troy Haynes’ memory alive, they also know people won’t forget him, even without them.

“People are going to remember him, there’s no ‘hoping’ about it,” Said Brewer. “It’s just the kind of person he was. No matter what he was going through, he was always smiling. He always tried to brighten somebody’s day.”

“Everybody was just believing in the slogan, ‘FightLike4,’” said Vessels. “At the end of the day, we’d just think, what would Troy do and how would he react? He would want us to give 100 percent.”

Monster eating

With the NASCAR world in town this weekend, Dover International Speedway has teamed up with Rehoboth restaurant SoDelConcepts for a specially-designed concession menu.

Among the food available outside the track’s frontstretch grandstand, will be:

• Delaware Destroyer: Waffle-cut fries, crab béchamel, white cheddar, scallions, bacon and Old Bay seasoning.

• Jimmie Jam: Hand-crafted scrapple bratwurst, apple sauerkraut, beer mustard.

• Slingshot Scrapple Grilled Cheese: Haass scrapple, American cheese, fried egg and white bread.

• Sticky Icky Fried Rice Bowl: Four-time award winning fried chicken morsels, shaved vegetables, fried egg and special sauce.

• The Ricky Bobby: Shake and bake fried chicken, hand-blended dry seasonings, buttermilk slaw and potato roll.

• Martin Truex Jr. Walking Clam Nacho: Sea Watch New England clam chowder, thick cut bacon, jack cheese, scallions. ($1 from every Walking Clam Nacho sold will go to the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation).

Odds & ends

• There’s a couple interesting games on tap this afternoon with Caesar Rodney High hosting rival Dover at 4 p.m. in field hockey and the Senators hosting Smyrna in girls’ volleyball at 5:15 p.m.

• Wesley College quarterback Jon Mullin has managed to go without shaving since his freshman year. The senior, who is slated to make his first start as a Wolverine on Saturday, has a pretty extensive beard to show for it.

Not surprisingly, his mother has mixed feelings about it.

“I just like it,” said Mullin. “I look like a little baby if I shave it. My mom always tells me to cut it every time I go home. She’s like, ‘You’ve got to shave that thing.’

“She’s a little bit for it and a little bit against it because it’s a little bit too much. But, for me, I like it.”

• Wesley’s field hockey game against Shenandoah last week featured six former Smyrna High players.

• On-site NASCAR wagering will be available at Dover International Speedway this weekend. A sports betting station will be set up inside the Delaware Lottery booth, not far from the Monster Monument at Victory Plaza. The hours will be 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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