From the sports editor: Callahan catching on with Packers

It’s certainly not that Joe Callahan is ho-hum about being in the NFL.

And this is all still going to make one heck of a story someday.

But there’s a certain comfort level for the former Wesley College quarterback now that he’s in his second season with the Green Bay Packers.

“Occasionally you get that realization of where you are, especially coming from Wesley,” Callahan said this week. “But, it’s year two. At the end of the day, it’s still just football.

“The Packers have a real good locker room, a group of good guys. Everybody’s pretty down to earth and you’re just going to work with your friends.”

Of course, that’s not to say things haven’t changed for Callahan, who was checking out Wesley’s practice on Wednesday afternoon. The Packers have their open date this weekend.

When Green Bay star Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone a few weeks ago, Callahan went from a practice-squad player with no chance of playing on Sundays to the No. 2 QB on the depth chart behind new starter Brett Hundley.

Callahan hated to see Rodgers get injured, of course. But the 6-foot-1, 216-pounder also says he’s not intimidated by the situation he finds himself in.

“My mindset hasn’t changed from the day I got there,” said Callahan. “I’ve always made sure I prepared as if I were the starter. You know, there’s a little bit more responsibility on me now.

“But I’m excited for it. It’s something I’ve been looking forward to. It’s an opportunity.”

Still largely unknown outside of Dover and Green Bay, Callahan’s name got thrown around a little bit nationally when the Packers signed him to the roster rather than picking up controversial free agent Colin Kaepernick.

Like most players, Callahan has just tried to tune out all the media noise that constantly swirls around the NFL.

“I really don’t go on Twitter that often,” he said. “Social media, I’ll check every once in a while.”

The 24-year-old Callahan has never lost sight that he’s living a pretty cool dream right now. He’s an undrafted, undersized Division III quarterback who’s found a place in the NFL.

And he’s suiting up for the team he’s loved since he was a kid.

“It’s a cool feeling — especially in Lambeau,” Callahan said, referring to the Packers’ stadium. “That’s a special place.

“They’re great fans. They know every player on the team. They’re at every event — our practices are sold out every time it’s an open practice.”

The fact that Callahan played at tiny Wesley College doesn’t seem like a big deal to his teammates. He does get a little mileage out of the fact that a couple of his teammates, who played for Michigan, were also Wolverines in college.

“I like to tease them that we were the real Wolverines,” said Callahan. “And that they wouldn’t stand a chance if they came down here to Delaware.”

Callahan has kept his connection with Wesley, too.

On Wednesday, he was talking with some of his old teammates who are still playing for the Wolverines, and posing for a photo with Ben Knapp, the son of offensive coordinator Chip Knapp.

There’s also a group text that Callahan, coach Mike Drass and several former players are part of.

“The group text gets pretty funny sometimes,” said Callahan. “It’s nice to stay in touch with everyone. If anything, they tease me a little bit more now.”

A pretty good day

It’s a rare occasion when a state can boast that every one of its college football teams won on the same day.

But Delaware could make that claim last Saturday when Wesley beat Kean, Delaware State topped South Carolina State and Delaware edged Richmond.

That’s the first time all three programs have won on the same day since Nov. 21, 2015.

With Delaware moving into the FCS Division I poll (No. 23) for the first time since 2014 and Wesley at No. 14 in Division III, two of the First State’s three teams are also nationally ranked.

For the 5-2 Blue Hens, who can guarantee their first winning season since 2013 with a victory at Towson on Saturday, it’s nice to be back in the polls.

“I do think people are paying a little more attention,” said first-year UD coach Danny Rocco. “We really have had to play catchup. Our preseason ranking was poor, our preseason RPI. … everything that kind of went into the body of work heading into the season was poor.

“So we’ve had to overcome a lot of different things. But I think if you just look solely at our body of work for this season — our record and our competition — I think you’d recognize that we’ve got a solid football team and worthy of that type of acknowledgement.”

Odds & ends

  • The Henlopen Conference Northern Division title in boys’ soccer is still up in the air. Caesar Rodney and Cape Henlopen have already finished their North schedules at 5-1 but Sussex Tech is 3-1 with North games left against Dover and Sussex Central next week.

If the Ravens win those two games, the North will end in a three-way tie with each team going 1-1 against the other two. In that case, there are up to seven criteria the Henlopen Conference looks at to decide the champion.

  • More than 500 Special Olympics athletes and Unified partners will compete at the annual Special Olympics Delaware Fall Sports Festival on Saturday at St. Andrew’s School in Middletown.

Competition begins early Saturday morning with round-robin tournaments in bocce, flag football, soccer and volleyball. A 5K and 1-mile run along with a Young Athletes (children ages 2–7) demonstration will also be held.

The opening ceremony is at 11 a.m. inside Sipprelle Field House. There is no admission fee. For more information, including individual sports schedules, visit www.sode.org.

  • The first Delaware Sports Hall of Fame nomination meeting for 2018 candidates will be held Nov. 12 at 1 p.m. at the State Police Troop 2 headquarters in Glasgow. Those supporting Hall of Fame candidates may speak for up to five minutes. Anyone planning to attend the meeting should e-mail desports@windstream.net: attention Don Voltz or Bill Fleischman.
  • The 14-0 Delmar High field hockey team has now outscored its opponents 124-6. The Wildcats have 10 shutouts while scoring in double figures in seven contests. Delmar closes the regular season on Saturday by facing Dover at 12:30 p.m. at Rullo Stadium in Newark as part of the Turf Bowl.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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