John Coveleski returned to the sidelines at Caesar Rodney High’s stadium on Wednesday night, but neither he nor the Riders had much time for sentimental moments.
That’s because this time, Coveleski, the longtime CR football and boys lacrosse coach, was calling the shots for rival Dover, which hired him as its boys lacrosse coach prior to this season.
While junior Hunter Schaeffer scored six goals and sophomore David Schmidt contributed three goals to spark Caesar Rodney to a 16-5 rout of Dover in a Henlopen Conference game Wednesday night, Coveleski didn’t exactly leave the field with a tear in his eye.
“It was great,” Coveleski said. “I’ve known kids on both sides of the ball, so that’s kind of a special feeling. It’s great to be back at CR, it’s always been kind of home to me, but I’m proud of our kids from Dover.”
Even Caesar Rodney coach Drew Hughes admitted it was a little odd seeing Coveleski in Dover’s blue and white.
“It was definitely strange. We kind of gave [Coveleski] some jokes back and forth,” Hughes said. “Coveleski has done a ton for lacrosse in Delaware, and he’s continued to do that. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s going to build that Dover program.”
Caesar Rodney (2-0 overall, 1-0 Henlopen) handed the Senators their share of lumps on Wednesday.
Joshua Clendaniel, who finished with two goals, began the scoring for Dover just 1:18 minutes into the contest to give the Senators the early lead.
CR turned things around quickly from there. Nick Gruwell tied the game 2:02 later before Schaeffer scored his first goal of the game off Tom Aloe’s assist just 44 seconds later as the Riders took a 2-1 lead.
CR extended its lead to 4-1 by getting goals from David Schmidt and Schaeffer as it quickly transformed into its usual powerful self.
The Riders pulled away for a 10-2 lead at halftime, keeping the Senators off the scoreboard while Schaeffer scored three of CR’s six goals in the second quarter. His final score came off a hidden-ball trick with 5.5 seconds left until halftime.
“It’s a big conference win,” Schaeffer said. “We had hard play. Our first win we came out sloppy, but we played hard-nosed lacrosse, and that’s what got it done.”
Caesar Rodney was able to outshoot the Senators by a wide 44-8 margin. A.J. Wayward and Gruwell chipped in with two goals apiece for the Riders.
“I was very proud of my boys and the way we played,” Hughes said. “They were aggressive and fast, and that’s how we teach them to play.”
Dover (2-1, 1-1) opened its season with back-to-back victories over Sussex Tech and Joppatown (Md.).
However, the Senators have been unable to defeat CR since recording a 10-9 win in 2010. That could change with Coveleski at the helm. After all, he coached CR’s lacrosse team for 14 seasons, leading the Riders to three state titles and a 186-45 record. He also coached the Riders’ football team for 18 years.
As for Dover, Coveleski is preaching patience.
“We played consistently inconsistent, but you know what, we’re going to grow from that,” said Coveleski. “We’ve had a nice quick start being 2-0, and we want to be a top-tier team, and now we know what we’ve got to do. “
Hughes said the Riders still have plenty of things to work on themselves.
“We have high goals, and what I was proud of was we played fast and aggressive and physical,” Hughes said. “We made some sloppy mistakes out there, but it’s still very early in the season, we’re still in March, and we’re hoping to hit our stride by the tournament.”