MILFORD – Jake Furbush is from Laurel. Chase Harmon is from Delmar.
For 51 weeks every year, that is like mixing oil and water. But this is the week of the DFRC Blue-Gold All-Star Football Game, when rivalries melt away and friendships are forged.
Furbush and Harmon are even rooming together. Laurel coach Glenn Phillips Jr. is serving as head coach of the Gold team, and in a true sign of sportsmanship, he didn’t order Harmon to do any extra running after a scrimmage on Wednesday at Briggs Stadium.
“You actually start to realize that hey, maybe they’re not as bad as people say,” Harmon said with a laugh. “Everybody is getting along well.”
Harmon and Furbush already knew each other after participating in a wrestling program together when they were younger. The linebacker and lineman are joining forces against a new rival.
“Chase isn’t too bad of a guy,” Furbush said. “That rivalry is still there, but now we’re playing for a different cause. Instead of playing to beat Delmar, we’re playing to beat the Blue team.”
That will be the objective when the 59th annual game kicks off at 7 p.m. Saturday at Delaware Stadium. Some Kent County football fans may be distressed to know that at least for now, players from Caesar Rodney and Dover are getting along.
“At first, I was like, ‘Oh, CR. That’s our rival,'” Dover linebacker Deon Wright said. “We were used to playing against them and getting in arguments. But hanging around with these guys – Alex Kemp, Brendyn [Moore] and Dom Dorsey – they’re all real cool people.”
Wright said he also has several friends on the Blue team, including St. Mark’s Zach Whitehead and Brendan Fogarty. All of them share a common bond – a love of football.
“I don’t have a problem with people from Glasgow. They’re cool, except for a guy wearing a green pinnie,” Newark’s Dutch Vanderhout said, while laughing and pointing at Glasgow’s Ray Mangold after the scrimmage. “I’m just kidding. I’m glad I’m getting a chance to play with Ray.”
Mangold, a fellow lineman, is happy to join forces with Vanderhout after playing across from him.
“We’re all cool,” Mangold said. “We’re all here to have fun.”
Vanderhout has even buried the hatchet with a certain noseguard from Middletown.
“I used to have a personal rivalry with Jacob Bricker,” the Newark lineman said. “But I put all those differences aside. Now, we just want to beat the Blue team. Even Jacob Bricker is a great guy.”
The state’s top senior football players are proud to be part of an annual tradition, coming together to benefit the Delaware Foundation Reaching Citizens with intellectual disabilities. Each player has been matched with a “buddy” between the ages of 4-18 as part of the Hand-in-Hand program, allowing the students to build relationships with youngsters with intellectual disabilities.
“The Laurel-Delmar rivalry is big-time down home,” Phillips said. “But this game is not about us. It’s not about Laurel-Delmar or Caesar Rodney-Dover. It’s about the DFRC, the buddy program, and bringing happiness to the buddies. We want to promote this great cause.”
There is one thing the players typically won’t do. Players annually adorn their helmets with stickers provided by their teammates from different schools. But that only goes so far.
“The one thing I can tell you, the stickers won’t go on the helmets,” Phillips said. “… The Bulldogs won’t go on the Wildcats helmet, and the Wildcats won’t go on the Bulldogs helmet. We draw a line in the sand there.”
Of course, even that can lead to a joke. Last year, Phillips coached the Gold team’s linebackers. One of his players was Delmar’s Cory Mattox.
“I actually snuck the Bulldogs sticker on [Mattox’s] helmet,” Phillips said. “I had to take a picture and put it on Facebook. But we just have fun that way.”
Contact Brad Myers at (302) 324-2807 or email@example.com.