High school football: CR happy to get by Wildcats

Smyrna’s Devin Smith takes the opening kickoff for a big return against Sussex Central. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

As far as anyone around the Caesar Rodney High football program can remember, this was the first time that the Riders faced Delmar in football.

So that gave Friday night’s matchup between CR and the Wildcats something of an historic feel.

And the last thing coach Dan Candeloro expected the Riders to do was take Delmar lightly just because it’s a smaller school.

“I told the kids all week, you’re walking into a hornets’ nest down there,” said Candeloro. “Coach (Dave) Hearn does a great job with those kids. They’re always tough.

“We had our work cut out for us. It wasn’t going to just be a walk in the park, that’s for sure.”

Sure enough, CR found itself tied with the Wildcats late in the first quarter.

But the Riders scored 14 unanswered first-half points before finally making the long ride back home with a 26-6 victory.

The victory gives CR a 3-0 start for the first time since 2008.

Candeloro said he liked the way the Riders responded after being tied with the Wildcats, 6-6. CR had made a couple mental mistakes that gave Delmar good field position.

“We just kind of weathered the storm long enough to have the opportunity to score some points and finally wear them down a little bit,” said Candeloro. “We told them to keep their heads no matter what happened early — let’s just stay playing Rider football and do our thing.”

Quarterback Tremere Woodlin threw a touchdown a pass to Deontre Cale and ran for a TD to spark the Riders. Brock Conner (17 carries-77 yards) and Julian Harris also ran for touchdowns.

Defensively, lineman Kevin Hudson was credited with 5.5 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. The Riders forced four Delmar turnovers.

Smyrna’s Wayne Knight heads upfield for a big gain against Sussex Central.

With CR hosting Polytech (0-2) on Friday night, Candeloro will have to remind his players again about avoiding overconfidence. The Riders’ final four regular-season contests are all Henlopen North games.

“They are feeling good but I told them, Polytech beat us three years ago,” said Candeloro. “No game is a given. You enjoy it (the win) for Saturday and then you turn the page and start working on your next opponent.

“It’s not going to get easier,” he added.

Still, Candeloro admits, being 3-0 is a lot more fun than losing. CR has already matched its win total for all last season.

“It keeps everybody focused for sure,” Candeloro said about the Riders’ fast start. “We haven’t been 3-0 in a long time. It’s kind of fun going to practice. The kids are definitely in a whole better mood.”

Carrying the load

Before Friday’s game with Milford, Cape Henlopen High coach J.D. Maull told his senior running back, Jaden Davis, that he planned to keep him busy.

“This week we told him, ‘You’re going to carry the ball 30 or 35 times,’” said Maull.

He wasn’t exaggerating, either.

Davis ended up carrying the ball an exhausting 38 times in the Vikings’ 41-28 win over the Buccaneers. He piled up 217 yards and scored five touchdowns.

Maull wasn’t afraid to give the ball to Davis on nine straight plays with the game on the line. He covered 38 yards on the nine runs, scoring a big insurance TD on a three-yard burst with only 1:10 remaining.

The Eagles’ Zamir Gardner dives for a couple of extra yards against Sussex Central.

Considering the 5-foot-9, 195-pound Davis also starts at linebacker, he didn’t leave the field much at all on Friday. But Maull said Davis has trained hard to put himself in this position.

“He’s worked all summer getting himself stronger and bigger,” said Maull. “He’s our bell cow. He took us home tonight.”

Back in action

Jed Bell admits this isn’t a perfect situation.

His Woodbridge High football players haven’t been able to practice as a team the last couple weeks because the school was closed after some positive COVID-19 test results.

The Blue Raiders are slated to play their season opener on Monday at Lake Forest at 5 p.m.

But Bell also said Woodbridge’s players have been conditioning on their own and meeting online with the coaching staff. The Raiders were scheduled to practice on Saturday and Sunday.

“We’ll have Saturday and Sunday to get together, get our game plan in, get up to speed as much as we feel we can and just go out and see what happens on Monday,” said Bell.

“It’ll be nice, it will be really good to see them in person. We did have four weeks of camp, went through a game week and even got a pre-game in. We know the routine and we’ve got a lot of veteran kids. This is just one of those things. It’s your season, you’ve got to make the most of it and just be grateful for the opportunity.”

Extra points

Former CR defensive end Matthew Obiagu is heading to Albany on a scholarship. The 6-foot-7, 240-pound international student has only played organized football for a couple years. … Laurel’s 28-0 victory over rival Seaford on Friday night gave the Bulldogs the Lions Club Trophy for the 17th straight year. … The Milford-Cape Henlopen game included a brief on-field scuffle between players in the second quarter. Two Buccaneers were ejected with one Viking thrown out of the game. … Trevor Collins and Javier White both returned interceptions for TDs in Laurel’s 35-0 win over Indian River on Monday. … The Bulldogs posted two shutouts in a span of five days. … While games canceled because of COVID-19 cases have become part of the football landscape this fall, Wilmington Friends and Dickinson forfeited games on Friday because they didn’t have enough uninjured players available.