Late replacements glad to join Gold team

Caesar Rodney graduate Brian Lewis cut short a vacation to Florida to join the Gold squad as a late replacement. (Special to the Delaware State News/Jon Lloyd Jr.)

Caesar Rodney graduate Brian Lewis cut short a vacation to Florida to join the Gold squad as a late replacement. (Special to the Delaware State News/Jon Lloyd Jr.)

NEWARK — The last thing on Brian Lewis’ mind this week was football.

The recent Caesar Rodney High grad was on vacation in Florida — until he got a phone call on Tuesday.

The call was from Middletown coach Mark DelPercio, telling Lewis a spot had just opened up on the Gold roster.

Even though he planned to spend another week in Florida, Lewis didn’t think twice about it.

His father bought him a plane ticket so he could come back early. By Sunday afternoon Lewis was in Delaware Stadium, taking part in Blue-Gold All-Star Football Game Media Day.

“Once they told me about this, I had to come,” said Lewis. “It’s something you can’t miss. It’s an honor to be a part of it.”

Last-minute replacement stories are part of Blue-Gold tradition. Somebody gets injured or something else comes up and suddenly a kid who thought his high school football career was over is back in a helmet and shoulder pads.

Sussex Tech's Cole Collins is happy to be a Gold replacement.

Sussex Tech’s Cole Collins is happy to be a Gold replacement. (Special to the Delaware State News/Jon Lloyd Jr.)

This year, the Gold squad actually has three late replacements: Lewis, Milford’s Michael Holstein and Sussex Tech’s Cole Collins. All three will be suiting up for the Gold in Saturday’s 61st annual Blue-Gold Football Game.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Delaware Stadium in the contest that benefits the DFRC and Delawareans with intellectual disABILITIES.

Collins was out on the beach Saturday when he got the call from Sussex Tech coach Mark Quillin.

“I said, ‘Well get off the beach and go get your football equipment,’” said Quillin, who is a member of the Gold coaching staff this year. “He was like, ‘No way.’ He was so excited. He’s a great kid and I’m really happy for him.”

“It was a shock,” said Collins, who plans to play baseball at Goldey-Beacom next year. “I’ve been wanting to do this since I got into high school. It was a goal of mine and I didn’t reach it at first but now I have a chance to play in this game.

“There’s a lot of talented kids here and to play with them is kind of amazing.”

Gold squad late replacements include Milford’s Michael Holstein. (Special to the Delaware State News/Jon Lloyd Jr.)

Milford’s Michael Holstein joined the Gold squad as a late replacement. (Special to the Delaware State News/Jon Lloyd Jr.)

Milford’s Holstein may not have had as drastic a change of plans as Lewis but he did have his graduation party scheduled for Saturday. Instead, his family will be in Newark for the football game.

“I thought my football career was over after the end of the season,” said Holstein, a tight end. “I was definitely excited. … I haven’t picked up a football in maybe two or three months so it’s a little different.”

Holstein actually just played in the Blue-White All-Star Lacrosse Game last Tuesday. He’s going to continue his lacrosse career at Davis & Elkins College.

But the West Virginia school doesn’t have football any more. His grandfather, William Holstein, was an All-American football player at Davis & Elkins.

Holstein’s other grandfather, Michael McClain, also played college football. Michael Holstein said it means a lot to him to play one more football game with McClain in the stands.

“My grandfather was just as enthusiastic (about him getting selected),” said Holstein. “I can’t wait to make him proud. It’s really special.”

CR’s Lewis is planning to continue his playing career as a walk-on at Monmouth. While he also played quarterback for the Riders, he expects to line up at receiver for the Gold.

“Once I didn’t get the call back during the season, I was like, I might as well just start working hard for college,” said Lewis. “But they called me and I was ready to go. I was real happy.”

Middletown’s DelPercio, the Gold head coach, said it’s always rewarding to see how excited a replacement is to get his chance at playing in the Blue-Gold Game.

“You want to see guys that want to be part of it,” said DelPercio. “It was neat.”

Extra points

The Gold squad is scheduled to scrimmage at Caesar Rodney High on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. … The Blue will scrimmage at the same time at Tower Hill. … With Mike Clavier unable to play in the game, Lewis is now the only CR player on the Gold roster. … Milford’s Shawn Snowden also couldn’t make it while Lake Forest’s Noah Feague-Johnson and Sussex Tech’s Zachary Harris won’t play in the game because of injuries. … Middletown has five players suiting up for the Gold while Smyrna has four.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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