From the sports editor: Kemp to take final shot with Wesley

Alex Kemp’s life is in perpetual motion.

By 5 a.m. most days, he’s working out.

Then, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., the Wesley College football player is a physical therapist, dealing with cardiatric patients.

And Kemp, who’s been living in Colorado for the past two months, caps off his days by working as a cook in a local restaurant from 7 to 11 p.m.

Then he gets up the next day and does it all over again.

“It’s non-stop,” Kemp says with a laugh.

There’s nothing about Kemp’s brutal schedule that wouldn’t be a lot of easier if he wasn’t still playing college football.

And, indeed, the Caesar Rodney High grad thought seriously about not using his last season of college eligibility. Kemp didn’t take part in the Wolverines’ spring practice and then graduated in May.

“It was just doing the same thing every day for the past couple years,” he said. “It was like, ‘It’s time to start working.’”

But when Wesley coach Mike Drass died unexpectedly on May 14, Kemp’s decision suddenly seemed much clearer.

Kemp decided he needed to play one last season. He’s planning to be in camp on Thursday when the Wolverines open preseason practice.

“Every day, he (Drass) would call me or text me trying to get me to come back,” said Kemp. “I would tell him, ‘I’m not really sure if I want to.’ Then I started to really think about it and then he passes away. It just really stuck to me.

“I didn’t really get to tell him, ‘Hey, I’m coming back to play one year.’ He went out without knowing if I was coming back or not. It was kind of touching.”

The 22-year-old Kemp, who will return to school as a graduate student, has other reasons for playing another season, of course. He knows his dad enjoys watching him play and he wants to be there for his teammates.

But Kemp also doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life regretting the season he missed out on.

“People always say, ‘It’s here now,’” said Kemp. “You have an opportunity. You just had a junior (workout) day with the Eagles and the Redskins and you’re not even going to play your last season? It kind of stuck to me.

“I can’t not take this last shot. You only get one opportunity. I can’t try again 10 years from now.”

Having the speedy Kemp back is a big boost for the Wolverines’ offense.

The 5-foot-11, 165-pounder is always a threat to get behind the secondary. He’s third on the program’s all-time list in receptions (155), fourth in receiving yards (2,410) and 10th in receiving touchdowns (24).

Kemp said his teammates seemed pretty excited when word spread that he was going to play this fall.

“They’ve been blowing up my phone like, ‘You’re finally coming back,’ and things like that,” he said. “I’m actually really excited to come back. It’s definitely going to be different with everything that’s going on. But as long as we stick together and work through it … I think it’ll be great.”

And Kemp has a better idea of what he wants to do with his life when he really is done playing.

He’s been working at Fort Carson, a U.S. Army base in El Paso, Colo. He usually deals with patients who have had heart attacks or undergone heart surgery.

“It’s pretty serious stuff,” said Kemp.

For now, however, the real world can wait a little longer. Kemp has one more football season he needs to play.

Riders on the road

Originally, Caesar Rodney High was going to play some of its home football games at Wesley while the installation of artificial turf at its field was completed.

Now, though, the Riders are going to play those games on the road in exchange for future home contests. Athletic director Bob Beron said CR will host both Polytech and Appoquinimink in both 2019 and ‘20.

As things stand now, however, the Riders will play just two of eight regular-season games at home. Oct. 12 will be homecoming in more ways than one when CR is slated to host Cape Henlopen in its first game on the new field.

“We thought this was a better option — gaining two extra home games on ‘our home turf’ vs. traveling for a ‘home game,’” said Beron.

Unfinished business

Delaware’s season-ending 28-7 loss to Villanova last November was an especially bitter one.

Not only was it the Blue Hens’ sixth-straight loss to the rival Wildcats, it almost certainly cost 7-4 Delaware its first NCAA Division I FCS playoff bid since 2010.

So it wasn’t surprising to hear second-year coach Danny Rocco talking about the Hens’ “unfinished business” when they opened preseason camp on Wednesday.

“We shouldn’t have put ourselves in that position,” said senior safety Nasir Adderley. “We were knocking on the door.

“We want to burst through the door. We want to make it like, Delaware has to be in the playoffs. That’s what we need to make happen.”

Odds & ends

  • State champion Milton will finally play its first game in the Little League Baseball Mid-Atlantic Regional today at 4 p.m. when it faces Maryland in Bristol, Conn.

Ironically, Maryland’s champ is from Berlin — which is about 33 miles south of Milton. After starting out with a loss in each of the last two years, Milton is eager to get a win in its Mid-Atlantic opener this time.

  • Dover’s Madison Brengle has been playing her sixth season of World Team Tennis this past month. This was the 28-year-old’s fourth-straight season with the Washington, D.C. Kastles.

The Kastles’ roster also includes Venus Williams and the Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike.

  • Polytech High’s annual field hockey preseason play day, which usually attracts a large number of teams from around the state, will be played at the DE Turf Complex in Magnolia this year. It’s slated for Aug. 25.
  • If it seems like the college sports season starts a little bit earlier every year, that’s because it does. The Delaware women’s soccer team opens its season on Tuesday at Rhode Island and plays eight games in the month of August.

Delaware State opens up on Aug. 16 and plays five games in August.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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