At some point in this football season, the schedule may get a little easier for the Concord Raiders.
But it won’t happen this week. After losing to two of the best in Division I – No. 1 Middletown and No. 7 Dover – the Raiders (0-2) host No. 2 Salesianum (2-0) at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
Veteran coach George Kosanovich’s team has struggled to put it all together. Concord led Middletown 8-7 after one quarter and only trailed 14-8 at the half before falling 35-8. The Raiders were held to 26 yards rushing in the first half at Dover but gained 112 on the ground in the second half of a 26-14 loss.
“We’ve moved the ball against good football teams,” Kosanovich said. “We’ve scored some points, but it just hasn’t been consistent yet.”
Concord knows what it will be facing with Sallies. The Sals like to run, and they like to run between the tackles. Salesianum has averaged 5.5 yards per carry in opening victories over Caesar Rodney and William Penn. Daulton Gregory has rushed for 191 yards, and 230-pound Troy Reeder has added 155.
But at least the Raiders won’t have to chase the Sals. Dover’s spread offense gave them fits, as quarterback Nick Spadafino and receiver Tavarus Sample hooked up for three touchdowns.
“I’d much rather play them than Dover, with five wideouts and people running all over,” Kosanovich said. “With Sallies, it’s mano-a-mano. They’re going to come right at you. … It’s pretty much their eight or nine against your eight or nine, and they’re going to run the ball right up in there.”
Salesianum coach Bill DiNardo believes the Raiders are underrated. Matt Mellette rushed for 85 yards and added an 85-yard kickoff return against Dover. Brycen Alleyne added 73 yards on the ground.
“We’ve seen them, and Concord is a very good football team,” DiNardo said. “They may be 0-2, but they have been very competitive against two good teams. We know we’re going to have our hands full.”
Brian O’Neill could be a handful for the Raiders. The imposing tight end-receiver, who has committed to Pittsburgh, has brought a different dimension to the Sals’ offense through two games with five catches for 170 yards and three touchdowns.
“They have good athletes that can do other things,” Kosanovich said. “Obviously, when you spread out a wide receiver that’s 6-7, 245 pounds, you think you’re playing the New England Patriots.”
Concord has had four punts blocked in its first two games, but Kosanovich plans to use more of his starting offensive line on punts to try to prevent that going forward.
In other notable games this weekend:
* No. 5 Sussex Central travels to No. 3 St. Mark’s in another Division I showdown at 7 tonight. The Golden Knights (2-0) have been impressive in wins over Northwestern (Md.) and Lake Forest. The Spartans (2-0) have shut out William Penn and Sussex Tech by a combined 69-0.
* Caesar Rodney (0-2) is desperately searching for a win after falling to Salesianum and Middletown, the top two teams in Division I. It doesn’t get any easier for the fourth-ranked Riders tonight, as they host Hodgson (1-1), which is ranked third in Division II. Kickoff is at 7:30.
* Caravel (1-1), the top-ranked team in Division II, had a 14-game winning streak snapped last week with a 34-15 loss at Episcopal Academy (Pa.). The Buccaneers face another tough out-of-state opponent at 7:30 tonight as they travel to Baltimore to play Archbishop Curley, which is off to a 3-0 start.