Unbeaten Caesar Rodney golf team hopes to contend for state title again

CR junior Akira Pavey finished seventh in the state a year ago. Delaware State News file photo

WYOMING — Technically, it was the start of the spring golf season.

But it felt much more like winter.

The wind chill was in the 20s and there was even still some snow on the ground.

Caesar Rodney High won its match with Indian River that day in March but the Riders also carded a score of 189 — easily their highest score in at least the last decade.

“It was cold, windy,” said senior Vincent Alois. “No sun, high scores. It was an interesting day.”

But, proving that first impressions can be deceiving, CR rebounded the next day to put up a team score of 166 in a match vs. Cape Henlopen.

And the Riders haven’t look back since, posting a 14-0 record and clinching another Henlopen Conference Northern Division title with one tri-match left in the regular season.

With Alois and Isobel Moyer the only seniors on the roster, CR hasn’t scored higher than 167 since that first match while going as low as 158 in a win over Salesianum.

The Riders, though, know they’ll probably have to play even better if they want to contend for a state championship.

“You always want to be playing your best golf the last two weeks,” said coach John Newman. “Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t. But I have a lot of confidence in the kids. I think they work hard, I think they’re passionate about it.”

CR returned three players from a squad that finished fourth in the state a year ago: Alois, junior Akira Pavey and sophomore Matthew Miller. To that group, the Riders added sophomore Weston Harrington, who played at Salesianum last spring.

Moyer, who’s going to continue her career at Jefferson University next year, and freshman Lilly Wagner hold the other two spots in the lineup.

CR’s top four players average between 39.5 and 41.0 per nine holes. The Riders haven’t lost a match to another Henlopen program since 2009.

Trying to win the program’s first DIAA state title since 2013 won’t be easy, however.

Defending state champion Tower Hill has carded a 147 this season, Appoquinimink had a 149 while Archmere has gone as low as 152. The DIAA state meet is slated for May 29-30 at Odessa National CC.

The Riders, who have finished in the top five every year since ‘13, are well aware of what the other top teams are shooting.

“You’ve got to know what’s out there,” said Pavey, who finished seventh in the state a year ago. “You’ve got to know your competition.

“You just come out here and try to get better. At the end of the round I look back and I’m like, ‘All right, well what went wrong?’ There’s something I need to improve on, whatever it is.”

“I think there’s five teams that could compete for the state (championship) this year, including us,” said Alois.

“It makes me want to play them,” he said about seeing other teams’ low scores. “I mean it’s good playing matches against the Henlopen Conference, but I want to play them (the top upstate teams).”

On May 18, CR will play the Henlopen South champion at Baywood Greens CC in the conference’s annual North-South match. The Henlopen tournament is then scheduled for May 22 at Maple Dale CC.

This is the time of year the Riders look forward to.

“We’re all pretty close,” said Alois, who tied for the top spot in the Henlopen tourney a year ago. “We play all summer together, we play during the off-season together. We know each other’s games pretty well, too.

“In none of our matches do I think we’ve played to our full potential. Usually we turn it on at the end of the season. That’s the plan this year.”

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