Throw records out the door: Dover-CR still a huge game

CAMDEN — Both teams wish there was more at stake than just pride.

But there’s nothing that can be done about that now.

Dover football coach Dante Jones by .

Dante Jones

The fact is, Dover High and Caesar Rodney High’s football teams come into tonight’s rivalry game with just five victories between them.

All that means is that both the Riders (1-4 Henlopen North, 2-7 overall) and Senators (1-4 North, 3-6) will put everything they have left into today’s 7:30 p.m. game at Camden. The contest will be broadcast on WDEL (1150-AM, 101.7-FM).

“Whenever we face CR, you know it’s going to be a good game just because of the rivalry,” said Dover coach Dante Jones, who is 1-1 against the Riders.

“You can throw the records out the door when you get in those rivalry games. It doesn’t even matter. Everybody’s going to come in and take their best shots.”

CR football coach Dan Candeloro by .

Dan Candeloro

“We’d really like to give the seniors something to leave with that’s positive,” said Dan Candeloro, Caesar Rodney’s first-year head coach. “We’d like to end the season on a high note going into the off-season.”

While neither the Senators or CR are headed for the state tournament, there are still some playoff berths to be decided in this, the final Friday night of the high school football
season.

In the Battle of the Bell (broadcast on 105.9-FM), Lake Forest (5-0 Henlopen South, 7-2 overall) goes to Milford (3-2, 6-3) knowing it already has the Southern Division title locked up. Lake, though, is playing for a higher seed in the Division II state tourney with a Milford victory keeping the Buccaneers in contention for an at-large berth.

Also, Woodbridge (4-1, 6-3) will be trying to wrap up a tournament berth when it travels to Delmar (1-4, 1-8). Even Indian River (4-5) would make the Division II tourney field if it knocks off Sussex Central (5-4) at home tonight.

In Division I, Henlopen North champion Smyrna (5-0 North, 8-1), which plays at Polytech (0-5, 0-9), can only help its tournament seeding with a win. On the other hand, Sussex Tech (4-1, 8-1) will be trying to hang on to its at-large tourney berth when it hosts Cape Henlopen (3-2, 5-3).

Probably the biggest motivation for the Riders tonight is trying to restore some pride after being blanked, 30-0, by Dover a year ago. It was the Senators’ first shutout in the series since a 13-0 win in 1988.

“They were a good football team and they just kind of overpowered us,” said Candeloro. “We were just chasing them the whole game. Obviously we don’t want to do that this year.”

A year ago, quarterback Triston Harris led Dover’s offense to the win over the Riders. He ran for 119 yards on 21 carries while completing 6-of-9 passes for 75 yards in the game.

Harris, though, won’t be on the field for his final game as a Senator after dislocating his right shoulder in last week’s 23-20 loss to Sussex Central.

Sophomore Michael Williams filled in for Harris after the injury, scoring a pair of touchdowns against the Golden Knights. But, with a week to prepare for the situation, Jones said he’s not sure yet who will be starting at QB tonight.

“We’ve tried a couple different things so we’re not sure exactly who we’re going to go with,” said Jones. “It’s always upsetting when you’ve got a young man that’s not able to finish out their high school career. But we have enough pieces to put a good product on the field. I think we’ll be fine.”

“Obviously Tristan’s a good leader and a great athlete,” said Candeloro. “We hate to see any kid go down. But their offense didn’t struggle very much without him. The kid who came in for him did a nice job. I’m not looking for too many changes out of them.

“I think they’re going to do what they do. … On the defensive side of the ball, it’s definitely a big challenge for us.”

One thing that will be different in this year’s game is the ‘trophy’ that goes to the winner.

Jones and Candeloro will have a sledge hammer painted blue — both schools’ primary color — that will be awarded after the contest. The winning school then gets to keep it for the year.

“It’s something to play for,” said Candeloro.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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