From the sports editor: Callahan ‘coming full circle’ with Packers

Joe Callahan

If the football gods really do love storybook endings, Joe Callahan will be in the Super Bowl in two weeks.

The former Wesley College quarterback is just so close right now.

This all started when Callahan beat the odds as a Division III QB just to make it into preseason camp with the Green Bay Packers.

Then he actually made the team, got released, signed by the Saints, got released, signed by the Browns, got released and, finally, re-signed by the Packers in December.

And the Packers — who never really wanted to get rid of Callahan in the first place — even moved him off the practice squad to the active roster on Dec. 17.

None of that means that Callahan will be in uniform today when the Packers face the Falcons in the NFC Championship Game. But it does mean he’s just one victory away from being part of the biggest game that a football player can aspire to.

“I just texted him today and said, ‘Hey man, we spent four years trying to get to a Stagg Bowl and here you are trying to get to a Super Bowl,’” said Wesley coach Mike Drass. “It’s one of those things. You think about that course — the odds of actually making an NFL team … and then getting picked up by the team you started with, it’s really coming full circle.”

Callahan will be on the sidelines for today’s game, watching it in street clothes. But he’s played his role in the Packers’ playoff run as the demo-team quarterback in practice.

Drass said it’s a job that Callahan takes seriously.

“I know how Joe looks at it,” said Drass. “He looks at it as his contribution to the team. He’s trying to be (Falcons’ QB) Matt Ryan for that defense during the week — show them everything that they’re going to see on Sunday.”

Callahan became a fan favorite when he took most of the snaps for the Packers in their preseason games. Many of those fans were happy when the Packers brought him back in December.

‘The Joe Show is back,’ began a story on the Packers website.

Everybody loves an underdog. And how cool would that underdog story be if it landed Callahan in the Super Bowl?

“Can you imagine that?” said Drass.

Henderson still a Hen

A new coaching staff hasn’t changed Nolan Henderson’s college choice.

The Smyrna High senior quarterback ‘re’-verbally committed to Delaware earlier this week.

“After much thought and evaluation I have confirmed my commitment to the University of Delaware,” Henderson posted on his Twitter account, “Can’t wait to get started as a Blue Hen.”

Henderson was named the state Offensive Player of the Year after leading the Eagles to their second straight DIAA Division I state title this fall.

He originally committed when Dave Brock was Delaware’s coach. Danny Rocco was hired as the Hens’ coach in December.

The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Henderson is one of a number of recruits who have publicly committed to the Hens ahead of the official signing day in February.

That group includes TE/DE-Luke Frederick (6-4, 215, Bishop Guilfoyle, Pa.), WR-Tylan McElhenie (6-2, 187, Ocean Lakes, Va.), OL-David Kroll (6-5, 317, South Lakes, Va.), WR-Gene Coleman (5-10, 182, Bergen Catholic, N.J.), OL-Carter Lynch (6-5, 315, St. Joe’s Prep, Pa.) and LB-Brendan Devera (6-1, 237, Wayne Hills, N.J.).

Kroll actually switched his original commitment from Rocco’s former school, Richmond.

Another Spiders’ recruit, WR-Thyrick Pitts (Forest Park High, Va.), appears to be visiting Delaware this weekend. The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder posted a photo of him with Rocco and two Blue Hen assistants “stopping by” to see him on Wednesday.

Pitts originally had offers from Navy, Army, William & Mary, New Hampshire and Towson, among others. As a senior, Pitts caught 33 passes for 593 yards with nine touchdowns.

Odds & ends

•After winning a total of five Australian Open matches over the last two years, Madison Brengle had a short stay in the Grand Slam tournament this year.

The Dover native, who is ranked No. 69 in the world, lost an opening-round match to the U.S.’s Alison Riske, 7-5, 6-3.

•When coach Mike Starkey notched his 200th career coaching win last week, it was a proud moment for the Lake Forest High boys’ basketball team.

But there was plenty of pride to go around, too, at Smyrna, where Starkey posted his first 184 varsity victories. Starkey still works in the Smyrna district.

“It’s nice,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of Smyrna guys reaching out. I don’t do a whole lot of social media but my wife conveys some of the old names that come back.”

•Former Delaware football standout Paul Worrilow will also be part of today’s NFC Championship Game. In his fourth year with the Falcons, the Wilmington native is now Atlanta’s backup middle linebacker.

Worrilow has been in on 21 tackles, defended a pair of passes and recovered two fumbles in 12 games.

•Delaware’s Sept. 16 home game with Cornell will be the first meeting between the two football programs.

•Chris Giacomucci has been named the full-time executive director of the Kent County Regional Sports Complex in Frederica. He had previously held the job on an interim basis.

•A crowd of over 400 packed the Laurel Fire Hall last weekend to celebrate the champions in the five weekly divisions from the 2016 season at Delaware International Speedway. A total of $45,000 in cash plus contingencies was distributed to the top 10 drivers in the five weekly divisions.

•The Delaware High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame is accepting nominations for this year’s class.

Nominations are due Feb. 10 and should be sent to: Tom Lemon, 2702 Pecksniff Rd., Wilmington, DE. 19808, or emailed to tjjl1955@gmail.com. Call 302-998-0267 with any questions.

Go to DelawareBCA.org for more information and to see a list of the 127 previous inductees.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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