Riders aiming to get back on track

Riders head coach Dan Candeloro is looking for his team to improve from a mediocre 5-5 finish a year ago. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

CAMDEN — There were times last fall when Caesar Rodney High looked like it had a pretty good football team.

That was especially true when the Riders won three of their first four games.

But injuries took a toll and CR sputtered to just a 5-5 record.

A .500 finish wasn’t what the Riders wanted after reaching the DIAA Division I state tournament the year before.

Coach Dan Candeloro is hoping an offense that went through some growing pains last fall will benefit from being a year older.

“The name of the game is putting it in the end zone,” he said. “The offense is returning more players this year and we’re kind of excited about this group. Our whole line is back, which is good, and they have a whole year behind them.”

Junior Tremere Woodlin, up from the JV squad, looks like he’ll be the starting quarterback when the Riders open the season on Friday by hosting Appoquinimink at 7 p.m.

The offense will also have some new leadership with Candeloro and his son, Zach, sharing offensive coordinator duties.

Junior Tremere Woodlin, up from the JV squad, looks like he’ll be the starting quarterback when the Riders open on Friday by hosting Appoquinimink at 7 p.m.

“Zach and I have put some good things together, I think,” said Dan. “We’re tag-teaming on a lot of stuff we did last year because we don’t want to change everything. They were taught well last year, they were just young.

“Now we’re trying to build on that and add another layer to it.”

Senior Emmanual Kennedy could get the ball at either fullback or halfback with Scottie Flowers, Kendall Smith, Ira Farrow, Anthony Rivera and Elijah Green also lining up as halfbacks. Brock Conner and David Domfeh are back at fullback with Zach McClements and Cody White in the picture at QB.

Up front, the Riders’ offensive linemen include Dylan Smith, Wyatt Buckson, Jon Gillick, Kevin Hudson, Mahlon Dyer, Josh Dyer, Wesley Keeler, Ezra Pendelton, Wilterson Joanem, James Ewell, Dylan Butler, Jalil Harris and Will Anthony.

John Devonish, Cordero Smith and Matt Davis are the tight ends with Corey Handy, Maurice Hynsen and Chris White at receiver.

But CR knows it has to get better on both sides of the ball if it wants to make a run at a state tourney berth.

The Riders were out-scored 133-33 in their last four games a year ago, a stretch in which they went just 1-3. With fewer experienced players returning on defense, Candeloro knows some new players will have to step into key roles.

CR’s defensive front includes Patrick Jelliffe, Hudson, Pendelton, Keeler, Davis, Derek Basnight, Dyer, Harris and Joanem. Back at linebacker are Sean Wooleyhand, Smith, Kennedy, Jon Devonish, Anthony, Conner, Jacob Garrett, Cordero Smith, Green and Farrow.

Zach Candeloro will share Rider offensive coordinator duties with dad Dan.

Manning the secondary will be Jon McPoyle, Flowers, Rivera, Kendall Smith, Handy, Julian Harris and Nate Waite.

The Riders’ non-conference schedule includes their first meeting with Middletown since 2016. But CR also has six home games this season after playing just two at home last year while its stadium was being renovated.

“They have been very hard workers,” Candeloro said about this year’s Riders. “They played summer ball together and workouts were good. I’m pretty proud of our seniors and what they’ve been able to accomplish.

“I’m just hoping for a good year,” he added. “We’d really like to return back to the playoffs. But, obviously, our conference and our non-conference schedules are not easy. We’re going to give it our all.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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