Caesar Rodney could lose to Dover tonight and still have a chance of making the DIAA Division I football playoffs. But don’t ask CR coach Mike Schonewolf about that.
“I’m not looking at that tournament thing,” Schonewolf said. “I’m not even trying to comprehend that tournament thing. I don’t care about that tournament thing.
“All we care about is Dover, because that’s the magic button for us. That’s what we’re focusing on, nothing else.”
Caesar Rodney will be the site of the annual crosstown showdown at 7:30 tonight, with the Henlopen North championship on the line. That will make playoff points calculations moot for the winner.
The third-ranked Senators (8-1, 5-0) and fifth-ranked Riders (6-3, 5-0) have left no doubt they are the best teams in the conference, winning all of their Henlopen North games by at least 12 points and combining to beat the other five conference foes by an average of 29.4 points.
But Senators coach Dante Jones, who will be getting his first taste of the Dover-CR rivalry, isn’t putting any special significance on the opponent.
“As a coach and as a team, we take every game the same,” Jones said. “I look at it as us playing a good team in Caesar Rodney, that’s it.”
Dover has won eight straight since opening the season with a 20-16 loss at Urbana, Md., which is now 8-1. The Senators didn’t miss a beat when sophomore Triston Harris stepped in to replace injured quarterback Nick Spadafino in the fifth game of the season.
“He has stepped in and done a heck of a job,” Jones said. “He has performed very well in a tough situation. When you’re building a program, you’ve always got to be prepared. It’s not about the first person at each position; you’ve got to prepare all of your team.
“He was ready. He was with us during the summertime, and he really knew his stuff. I’m not surprised by the way he has played.”
Harris has thrown for 330 yards and four touchdowns, but the Senators primarily rely on running backs Marcellus Pack (993 yards, 13 TDs in seven games) and Raekwon Bouges (1,099 yards, 9 TDs).
“They’re certainly utilizing the skills they have with the running backs and their ability to make big plays,” Schonewolf said. “They have good speed and do all kinds of good things with that.”
The Riders are battle tested, with their losses coming to No. 1 Middletown, No. 2 Salesianum in overtime and No. 4 St. Mark’s on a last-minute field goal. CR also owns a victory over Hodgson, which is ranked No. 1 in Division II.
“We had a long run of really important games,” Schonewolf said. “We certainly feel like we’re ready for anything with the schedule we have played.”
QB Alex Kemp operates the Riders’ wing-T attack, with fullbacks Dominique Dorsey and Dean Jones and halfbacks Naquan Watkins and Jordan Downes all getting plenty of carries. Receivers Kendall Wicks and Deshawn Schuler are big-play threats on the outside.
“When the season started, we thought, ‘Man, at the end of the year we’d like to be able to have a chance to play for something,’ ” Schonewolf said. “We do, and that’s a pretty good thing.”