Caesar Rodney is trying to keep it rolling. St. Mark’s is trying to get it rolling again.
Both teams have played difficult schedules, and it doesn’t get any easier when they meet each other at 7:30 tonight at Caesar Rodney.
The Riders (5-2), ranked third in Division I, lost to No. 2 Salesianum and No. 1 Middletown to open the season. Then Caesar Rodney slipped past Hodgson, which is ranked first in Division II, and dominated four straight Henlopen North opponents by an average of 28.5 points, including a 42-8 victory over Sussex Tech last week.
“We’re getting better on defense,” Riders coach Mike Schonewolf said. “We played a really special game against Sussex Tech. I thought they had a lot of weapons, and our guys did a good job of tackling and getting to the ball and limiting their ability to run.”
The Spartans (4-3), ranked fifth in Division I, opened the season with convincing victories over William Penn, Sussex Tech and Sussex Central before hitting a wall. St. Mark’s lost to No. 4 Dover, shut out Delaware Military Academy, then lost to national power Paramus Catholic (N.J.) before falling to archrival Salesianum 21-0 last week.
“We’ve just got to get back to playing good football, like we were the first three weeks,” Spartans coach John Wilson said. “We’ve kind of gotten sidetracked a little bit, especially on offense and special teams. We’re going to try to get back to where we were before.”
The nonconference game is an interlude for CR, which plays at Smyrna next week then hosts Dover on Nov. 8 with the Henlopen North title likely on the line. But it is critical for St. Mark’s, which only has nine games on the schedule. The Spartans play St. Elizabeth next week and still hope to schedule an out-of-state team in two weeks to boost their chances of qualifying for the Division I playoffs.
Concord (3-4) will travel to A.I. du Pont (4-3) at 7 tonight in another game key to the D-I tournament picture. Both teams need to sweep their final three games – and maybe get some help from others – to reach the playoffs.
“We’ll have to take care of business if we want to have any chance,” said Concord coach George Kosanovich, who also needs wins over Appoquinimink and Newark the next two weeks. “Hopefully, if we finish 6-4 and somebody has to beat somebody for us to get in, it might happen.”
The Tigers close the season against Charter of Wilmington and Glasgow. But football coaches don’t look ahead, and A.I. du Pont’s Zeb Blum is making sure his players aren’t peeking at the horizon, either.
“We talked to our guys on Monday about one at a time,” he said. “You can’t win three games in one week. Obviously, the focus this week has to be on beating Concord. If we get that done, then we’ll look at next week and what we have to do.”