Riders know they can count on veteran Clavier


CAMDEN — Mike Clavier didn’t even know if he was going to play that first night.

But then Caesar Rodney High’s starting middle linebacker got hurt in the first quarter.

The next thing he knew, Clavier — just a sophomore at the time — was taking the field against Salesianum in his first varsity game.

“I didn’t even think about it,” says Clavier, now a senior. “I just went out there. The second play I got a tackle and it just started flowing from there.”

Two years later, Clavier still hasn’t left the field.

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The 5-foot-9, 187-pounder will man his usual starting spot tonight when the Riders (0-2) go to Glen Mills, Pa. (1-2) for a 7 p.m. nonconference matchup.

Clavier is known as a pretty smart kid at CR. He carries a grade point average of over 96 and was ranked 19th in a class of 431 at the end of his junior year.

Defensive coordinator Brian Berns says that intelligence carries over to football.

“He’s like having a coach on the field,” said Berns. “He’s a student of the game. He’s a leader, he puts people in the right spots. He’s a very proud player that likes to control his area.

“He’s all over the field. There’s like a couple of him on the field sometimes. … He gets a feel for it, sneaks around and finds a way to get to the ball somehow.”

A year ago, Clavier was a second-team All-Henlopen Conference Northern Division selection at linebacker after leading the squad in tackles. He was also the first junior to win the Riders’ Iron Man Award for his work ethic and dedication to the program.

This year, Clavier has 21 tackles in CR’s first two games. As a fullback, he’s run for 48 yards on 13 carries while catching four passes for 71 more yards.

Even when Clavier was younger, Berns remembers thinking he just seemed to have a head for the game.

“Sometimes, if you say something, he’ll tweak it a little bit — ‘But you said that. … ‘“ said Berns. “He’s a film studier. I just love coaching him.

“He adjusts the line. Stunt-wise, he knows when to go, he knows to send somebody else. And he’ll pass it on to the other guys. It’s great having him on the field.”

“I like watching film,” said Clavier. “Sometimes I’ll know, just from when a guy is coming to block me, I can know which way the ball is going to be going, even if I can’t see it.”

Clavier says he’d like to own his own home building company someday. Right now, though, all he wants to do is help the Riders get winning again.

CR has lost six games in a row and 10 of its last 12 contests. When Clavier was a sophomore, though, the Riders went 8-4 and reached the DIAA Division I state semifinals.

“A lot of those (young) guys don’t know really what it’s like,” said Clavier. “I just try to work hard all the time and hopefully they follow me. I’m always trying to push them to go harder.

“We’re coming along,” he said. “Each week we’re getting better. We got a lot better from week one to week two. We just want to win games and be the best we can be.”

Smyrna, Sals square off

Probably the most interesting on tonight’s schedule is the showdown between Smyrna and Salesianum, which are both 2-0.

The contest is being played at Wilmington’s Baynard Stadium at 7:30 p.m. It’s believed to be the first time the two schools have met in football.

The Eagles have outscored their first two opponents 120-0. The Sals, on the other hand, have won their first two games by a combined 87-27.

Starting in 2009, Sallies won 12 straight games against Henlopen North teams before falling at Sussex Tech, 33-27, in last year’s Division I state quarterfinals.

“That’s definitely a game to look forward to, for sure,” Smyrna coach Mike Judy said in preseason. “When we finalized the schedule. … the kids were like, ‘Oh, we’re playing Sallies? I can’t wait, I can’t wait.’ That’s these kids.

“This particular team wants that. We love playing in the Henlopen because it’s a gauntlet, it’s brutal. … When we got Sallies on the schedule, it’s what the kids want, it’s what we want as a staff. It’s a huge game and I know Coach (Bill) DiNardo is going to be overly prepared for us and we’re going to try to do the same to battle them.”

Freshman kicker breaks leg

There was a scary moment in CR’s 45-20 loss to Salesianum last week when Riders kicker Joseph Delgado was hit by an onrushing player on an extra point.

The freshman was down on the field for a while before being taken off in an ambulance.

Riders’ coach Dan Candeloro said Delgado ended up shattering both the tibia and fibula in the leg. The injury didn’t require surgery but Joseph now has his leg in a cast.

“It was his first kick on varsity as a ninth-grader,” said Candeloro. “That’s a tough way to start out. He’s a good kid, he works hard every day.”

Delgado’s father, Larry, works with the kickers and punters at Wesley College.

Extra points

Radio station Delaware 105.9-FM is scheduled to broadcast tonight’s game between Cape Henlopen and Indian River. … In Dover’s 28-20, overtime win over Baltimore Poly last Friday, the two teams were called for a combined 29 penalties totaling 227 yards. “Penalties hurt us bad,” said Senators coach Dante Jones. “We’ve got to clean that up.” … While CR is facing Glen Mills for the first time, Candeloro is no stranger to the program. He worked there for a year after graduating from Delaware State in the 1980s.

Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or walter@newszap.com.

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