Wills ready for CR vs Dover rivalry

 

Caesar Rodney running back Nhaighere Wills

Caesar Rodney running back Nhaighere Wills

CAMDEN — When the injury happened, Nhaighere Wills thought he would never have a chance to play high school football again.

The Caesar Rodney High senior running back hurt his ankle in the third game of the season against Glen Mills (Pa.).

He was in so much pain he thought it was broken. That’s what the trainer who came out on the field to check on Wills thought too.

But the injury wasn’t as serious as everyone feared. Wills missed five games and dealt with a setback, but he returned to the Riders for their first win of the year last weekend against Polytech.

It means he can participate in the Caesar Rodney-Dover rivalry game tonight at 7 p.m. at Dover High, something he was thinking about during his rehab.

“The next day I just got back up and started going to therapy and pushing myself,” Wills said. “I’m ready to go. Right now I feel 100 percent. Football is everything. When it’s football season you wake up thinking about football, you go to sleep thinking about football. That’s all I thought about.”

This is the type of rivalry game where the records do not matter. Caesar Rodney is 1-8 overall while Dover is 2-7 but each squad wants to come out on top against the school only a few miles away.

“It’s like the Super Bowl,” said CR offensive lineman Kenny Shahan. “It’s for bragging rights. It’s very important to the community. A wise man once said, ‘It’s not a good season if you don’t beat Dover.”

Dover has won the last two contests between the two, including a 24-16 result a year ago. The Senators hold the lead in the all-time series over the Riders with a 32-29-4 mark against CR.

The last time Caesar Rodney defeated the Senators was 42-18 in 2013 when the current group of seniors were freshmen in the program.

While the seniors on both sides haven’t had the season they would hope to end their high school careers, a win in this game will make it look a lot better.

“We want to send them off on a high note and obviously they’re having the same conversation across town,” said CR coach Dan Candeloro. “They’re well-coached and they’ll be ready to play. This community is close between these two schools. The kids know each other and a win will give you bragging rights for a whole year.”

Either way, the seniors made sure they savored this week of practice — knowing it is their last.

“I still ask coach if we can add an extra game or something,” Wills joked. “I still can’t believe I’m a senior now. Time goes fast.”

“You wish you could just go back to the beginning of the season,” said senior wide receiver and defensive back Sequann Daniels. “You appreciate everything more.”

The Riders have had some extra pep in their step this week at practice coming off of that first victory of the season — a 26-13 defeat of Polytech. It snapped a nine-game losing streak which dated back to last year.

“The intensity has been high — we’ve become more like a family,” Daniels said. “The coaches have been good to us all year and we’re finally starting to come together. Our physical and mental behaviors got better.”

“The enthusiasm is very high now since we’ve got more confidence,” Shahan said. “We’re working together, working hard and listening to the coaches. As seniors we know we have to set an example for these kids, some of them it’s their first time playing varsity this year.”

Candeloro noted Thursday was a sad day for the coaching staff because it was the last time it would be practicing with this group of seniors.

“I’m proud of every one of them because all of them could be doing something else,” Candeloro said. “It says a lot about a young man when during a season that’s not the win record that you wanted, but you came out everyday and worked hard and you’re still here. That’s what football gives you. It gives you a sense of teamwork and pride in yourself.”

 

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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