Rivalry a reunion for CR, Dover

The Dover-CR Raiders after they won the Pop Warner Junior Pee-Wee Eastern Regional title in 2014. There are 14 players from the ‘14 team in tonight’s game — eight for CR and six for Dover. Three more players from that squad play for Polytech. Submitted photos

CAMDEN — Even when they were just young kids, Danny Waite remembers telling his players that this day would come.

Back then, they were all teammates together in the Dover-CR Raiders Pop Warner program.

They even won a championship, taking the 2014 Eastern Regional title in the Junior Pee-Wee Division.

But Waite told the youngsters that a lot of them would probably face each other someday in high school.

“They were getting older and older,” said Waite, now the Caesar Rodney High defensive coordinator. “And every year we were like, ‘One day you guys are going to be lined up against each other — the Dover-CR game, the biggest game in the community.’ It was something that we all talked about.”

Tonight, those kids will get that chance again when Caesar Rodney (3-0 North, 4-0 overall) hosts Dover (0-2 North, 0-3 overall) at 7 p.m. in their annual rivalry game.

CR football assistant coach Danny Waite.

The Riders will be trying to snap a two-game losing streak in the series as well as remain tied with Smyrna for first place in the Henlopen North.

Dover leads the all-time series 35-30-4. Originally started in 1935, the rivalry has been played every year since 1961.

The fact that former Raiders Pop Warner teammates are playing each other isn’t anything new for this game. But the fact that the members of the 2014 championship squad are now seniors and juniors makes that bond a little more special.

There are 14 players from the ‘14 team in tonight’s game — eight for CR and six for Dover. Three more players from that squad play for Polytech.

“We’re still close,” said Riders’ senior running back/linebacker DeAndres Wills-Prattis. “When we talk to each other, we always talk about it (winning the championship). We wish we could go back.

“It’s crazy because of all the talks that the coaches had, and how it’s actually happening. I thought we would all stick together and be on one same team.”

“He (Waite) always talked about it at practice,” said Dover senior Kaden Klooster. “He said he thought it’d be unique and waited for the day that it would come.”

Waite keeps the trophy from the East championship trophy in his living room. The Raiders beat the Greece, N.Y. Chargers, 18-0, in the finals to cap off a perfect 12-0 season.

For Dover senior receiver/defensive back Ian Thomas, playing for the Raiders was the first chance he had to play tackle football.

“There’s a lot of good memories,” he said. “I made a lot of friends there, the coaches were so great — just happy times.”

While the Raiders got a big championship trophy — that Waite still keeps in his living room — the players all got small, individual ones.

CR senior Elijah Green, right, and his teammates host rival Dover tonight.

“It was my first trophy ever,” said CR senior Elijah Green. “We just worked hard together. Just coming together as a team and doing that, it felt good.”

The closeness of the team two brings some trash talking the week of the game — even between players who were once teammates. But players on both sides say it’s just for fun.

“We’ve been talking a lot — group chats and all,” said Green. “It’s a little friendly competition. Playing against them is always going to be special.”

“It’s a fun thing,” said Klooster. “I don’t think anybody really takes it to heart. It’s all healthy competition.”

As for the Dover-CR game, Waite has been on both sides of it, having played for the Senators and now coaching with the Riders. His son, Nathaniel, is a junior for CR.

Of course Waite will be pulling for the Riders to win tonight’s game. But he also appreciates the chance to see his former Pop Warner players together again.

“What’s so awesome is that all of them are still tight,” said Waite. “They still hang out together. It’s like they’re a little group inside of the two groups. … You just feel proud. We all grew up playing the game together.”

Lake-Delmar game canceled

The coronavirus pandemic continues to take its toll on the football season.

Tonight’s Delmar-Lake Forest High football has now been canceled due to COVID-19-related reasons.

Wildcats’ coach and athletic director Dave Hearn said the state Department of Public Health asked Delmar to quarantine after facing Milford last weekend. A Buccaneer player later tested positive for COVID-19, causing Milford to cancel its next two games.

Statewide, five football games have reportedly been canceled this weekend for various reasons. William Penn is not playing its next two football games while it quarantines after having a positive test.

Lake Forest has now had its next two games canceled by issues at different schools — Delmar and Milford. The Wildcats have also lost two games, including their season opener against Woodbridge.

There are seven Henlopen Conference football games that have either not been played or taken off the schedule for COVID-19 reasons.

There are three weeks remaining in what is slated to be a seven-week high school football schedule in Delaware.

Extra points

Dover has beaten CR by a combined 95-24 in the last two meetings. But the Senators have scored just one offensive touchdown in its three games this year … In Woodbridge’s first two games, junior Jaden Bacon has run for 236 yards and four touchdowns on 24 carries. … Outside of the Henlopen Conference, the three games canceled for this weekend are Middletown-William Penn, Howard-McKean and Dickinson-Wilmington Friends.