Woodbridge’s Haynes on minds of Blue-Gold participants

From left are Woodbridge High School Blue-Gold football players Gabe Wescott, Josh Propes, Jamon Kane and Brock Keeler. During Friday night’s all-star football game, each player will wear Woodbridge quarterback Troy Haynes’ No. 4 jersey for a quarter. Selected to be on the Gold team, Haynes is instead receiving treatment for kidney cancer in Texas. (Delaware State News/Tim Mastro)

NEWARK — Brock Keeler has always worn No. 44.

That number has never had more significance to him than it does right now.

Keeler and the rest of the Woodbridge High football program will be decked out in fours this weekend.

Keeler is one of four Woodbridge players participating in the 64th annual DFRC Blue-Gold senior all-star football game Friday night at 7 at the University of Delaware’s Delaware Stadium (7 p.m.).

He is joined by Gabe Wescott, Jamon Kane and Josh Propes.

It would have been five.

Their teammate Troy Haynes made the game but is locked in a battle with kidney cancer.

Haynes is currently undergoing treatment in Texas. But he’ll be in Delaware in spirit as all Woodbridge players will be honoring his No. 4.

“It’s my number and it’s also his number so I’m sharing them with him,” Keeler said of his No. 44. “Rocking the fours, it’s like double support.”

There will be an extra No. 4 jersey for the Gold team.

Each Woodbridge player will take a turn wearing it during the game. The plan is to have a different Blue Raider wearing No. 4 in each quarter.

Wescott said he’ll be wearing a shirt underneath his pads to support Haynes. He’ll also have “Fight Like 4” written on his wrist tape.

“Obviously you want to win the game as usual, but with Troy not here, we want to win the game for him,” Wescott said. “We’re just trying to be a support system for him. We’re trying to be as strong as we can for him.”

The “Fight Like 4” slogan has become the rallying cry as the entire state has come together in support of Haynes.

Social media has been full of the hashtag #FightLike4 as various athletic programs have donated money to Haynes’ fight. The Blue-Gold staff handed out wristbands to all players, coaches and spectators at Sunday’s Media Day with #FightLike4 written on it.

Brock Keeler’s number on the Woodbridge High football team is 44. “It’s my number and it’s also (Haynes’) number so I’m sharing them with him,” Keeler said. “Rocking the fours, it’s like double support.”

Woodbridge coach Jed Bell is an assistant for the Gold team and plans on having all players sign the No. 4 jersey to send to Haynes.

“The support has been nothing short of amazing,” Bell said. “We’re definitely going to find a way to make sure he feels as much a part of this game as possible,”

There’s also custom #FightLike4 helmet stickers that both the Blue and Gold teams will be wearing.

“This whole week is for Troy,” Propes said. “This isn’t about us. It’s about something so much bigger. Troy would give anything to be here right now.”

Haynes underwent surgery during the second week of May but was able to walk at Woodbridge graduation earlier this month before leaving to continue his fight against cancer in Texas.

He’s been in the spotlight of Delaware high school sports since he was a freshman as he started at quarterback every game for Woodbridge since the fourth game of his first year.

Haynes brought the Blue Raiders to the playoffs every season while at Woodbridge and was a part of two Division II state champion teams in 2016 and 2018. He left Woodbridge with a career record of 38-8 as a starter, including the postseason.

From left, Jamon Kane talks with his Woodbridge High teammates Brock Keeler and Joshua Propes during Sunday’s Blue-Gold Media Day at Delaware Stadium in Newark. Custom #FightLike4 helmet stickers will be worn by both the Blue and Gold teams Friday in honor of Woodbridge’s Troy Haynes. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh )

Keeler delivered a speech at graduation and made sure to mention this.

“First thing I said is he’s a natural-born winner,” Keeler said. “He’s won at everything he’s done his whole life. I have no doubt in my mind he’ll win this battle too.”

“Cancer definitely picked the wrong person,” Propes added.

The Blue-Gold teams were first announced in December and Bell was the one who delivered the news to Haynes. Bell, who has taken over the Woodbridge program from the retiring Ed Manlove, was the quarterbacks coach for Woodbridge during Haynes’ four years.

Bell said he remembered calling Haynes with the news of his selection and telling him how excited he was for one more game together.

“If you had a son, you’d want him to be like Troy,” Bell said. “Always respectful, does things the right way and works really hard. He embodies everything you want a kid to be.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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