Football players always stretch before a game, but another important person at Caesar Rodney had better loosen up tonight.
The scoreboard operator.
Points are expected to hit the board in bunches as top-ranked Middletown travels to No. 3 Caesar Rodney in what is sure to be an entertaining Division I showdown. Kickoff is at 7:30.
The teams last met in last year’s Division I state semifinals, with Middletown winning 35-28. Last week, the Cavaliers opened this season with a 35-8 victory over Concord. Caesar Rodney lost an epic opener to No. 2-ranked Salesianum, 41-35 in overtime.
So it’s easy to see why everyone is expecting a high-scoring game.
“There is nothing that surprised me about Caesar Rodney,” said Middletown coach Mark DelPercio, who watched the Riders lead Sallies most of the way before falling. “After playing them last year in the playoffs, we know they’ve got so much team speed. They’ve got some weapons.”
Elusive running back Naquan Watkins rushed for 120 yards last week, but CR did even more damage with its deep passing game. Quarterback Alex Kemp threw for 271 yards on just seven completions. Kendall Wicks and Deshawn Schuler each hauled in three bombs.
“They have the ability to throw the deep ball. We saw it last year, and we saw it on Saturday night,” DelPercio said. “They’ve got more than one guy who can catch the ball, and the quarterback has an arm that is very impressive.”
Of course, the Cavaliers also have a quarterback with an impressive arm. Four-year starter Darius Wade, who has committed to Boston College, completed 12 of 16 passes for 216 yards and two scores against Concord. And 6-foot-4 wide receiver Chris Godwin, who has committed to Penn State, caught Wade’s first TD pass and set up another score with a pass of his own.
Middletown did graduate several linemen from teams that won the last two Division I state titles, but CR coach Mike Schonewolf said the Cavaliers have plenty left.
“They have a lot of the same kind of guys back,” Schonewolf said. “They may not be the same names, but they have guys that can fill in those spots. We know it’s going to be a big challenge.”
The Cavaliers scored in a variety of ways against Concord – two passes, a run, an interception return and a blocked punt.
“I like the fact that we had the ability to get the ball around into different people’s hands,” DelPercio said. “I think people looked at us and said, ‘Hey, Wade and Godwin are coming back, it might be a two-man show.’ But we showed the ability to be a little more diverse than that.”
The Riders have vowed to quickly move on from last Saturday’s loss, part of a brutal four-week stretch to open the season. CR will host Hodgson, ranked third in Division II, next Friday before traveling to Henlopen North contender Cape Henlopen on Sept. 27.
“We were devastated, but we can’t do anything about that,” Kemp said. “We’ve put that in our past. We’re just ready to come back.”
Delaware’s other top-ranked team will put a 14-game winning streak on the line against a tough, out-of-state opponent tonight. Caravel, ranked first in Division II, will travel to Episcopal Academy (Pa.), which has won 12 straight. The game will be broadcast live by the Comcast Network at 7.