For the first time in Bill DiNardo’s 13 seasons, nine of Salesianum’s 10 regular-season football games will be played against Delaware opponents this fall.
And that makes the longtime Delaware high school coach proud.
“We’ve been working very, very hard within the ranks, and I think it’s a tribute to our program, our administration, that other schools want to play us,” DiNardo said. “Other schools do not see us as a private school threat. It’s a good thing.”
The Sals have no conference affiliation, leaving them 10 games to fill every year. That has been a problem, as they have had to resort to two or often three out-of-state opponents. In 2013, Salesianum took a 668-mile round trip for a game at Stuebenville, Ohio.
“We follow the rules,” DiNardo said. “We are members of DIAA. We follow the same rules with practice and everything that everybody else follows.
“We’re very proud to be part of Delaware. We are a Delaware football team, and we want to play our games in Delaware.”
The final piece of the puzzle fell into place when the Sals scheduled a game at Caravel on Sept. 30. Salesianum had contacted schools from as far away as Canada before discovering that Caravel – another nonconference private school that often has trouble with scheduling – also had a date to fill.
And the Sals won’t even have to cross the state line to play this season. The only out-of-state opponent – Father Judge of Philadelphia – will come to Baynard Stadium for Sallies’ season opener at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 9.
The Crusaders went 6-5 last season, but one of those wins was a 14-7 victory over the Sals. It was Salesianum’s only regular-season loss.
“They outhit us, outplayed us, outcoached us, out-everythinged us,” DiNardo said. “It was a disappointing loss last year, but it really taught everybody that we had to have our ‘A’ game every single game.”
The rest of the schedule is filled by Caesar Rodney, Smyrna, Dover and Sussex Tech of the Henlopen North; Middletown, Concord and William Penn of Blue Hen Flight A; and Division II’s Caravel and St. Mark’s.
The Sals will go into battle with five starters returning on both sides of the ball. All but one starter is back on the offensive line, including tackles Randy Sinnott (6-4, 280) and Dom Marra (6-6, 250), guard Zeb Wright (6-2, 300), center Sean Keating (6-4, 260) and tight end Josh Patrick (6-1, 220). Josh Williams (5-9, 265) and John Cohill (6-1, 240) are competing at the other guard spot.
“They were very big, they were very good last year,” DiNardo said. “They were a big part of our success.”
All of the Sals’ skill players graduated, including a gaping hole left by running back Colby Reeder (2,010 yards, 32 touchdowns), who is now at the University of Delaware.
“You don’t replace Colby Reeder,” DiNardo said. “Colby is a once-in-a-lifetime kid. But we’ll do things more balanced. He absolutely carried the load for us last year.”
Running backs Carson Salvo, Nick Merlino and Liam Mulvena are competing for carries, and Peyton Mullin returns at fullback.
Junior-to-be Zach Gwynn started only one game at quarterback, but it was the DIAA Division I championship game before more than 10,000 fans at Delaware Stadium after senior starter Garrett Cannon was injured in the semifinals against Middletown. Gwynn responded by passing for three touchdowns in the Sals’ 32-26, overtime loss to Smyrna.
“He showed a lot of poise last year,” DiNardo said. “He’s a very talented young man. He’s got a very big upside.”
Longtime Brandywine and Concord high school coach, physical education teacher and athletic director Jay Widdoes died Aug. 16. He was 90.
Widdoes, a Milford native, served in the Navy during World War II. Credited as one of the founders of high school soccer in Delaware, he also coached, played and officiated wrestling, baseball, basketball and football, and even filled in as a substitute coach and guided Concord to a DIAA field hockey state championship in 1978. He also was an avid golfer.
Visitation will be from 9-11 a.m. Tuesday at Brandywine Valley Baptist Church, 7 Mount Lebanon Road in north Wilmington. The family requests that casual clothing be worn to the visitation and service to follow. A private burial will be held at the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Bear. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Brandywine Valley Baptist Church or PTBoats.org.
Rounding it up
— Scott Barker has been named girls basketball coach at St. Mark’s. Barker, an A.I. du Pont and University of Delaware graduate, has previous coaching experience at A.I., Middletown, Delaware Tech, Avon Grove (Pa.), Wilmington University and with the Delaware Blue Bombers semi-pro team. He has been a men’s assistant coach at Lincoln University (Pa.) the past four seasons.
— Charter of Wilmington is seeking a head coach for boys and girls swimming. Interested candidates may email athletic director Chris Eddy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Middletown is seeking a head coach for girls basketball. Email resumes and letters of intent to athletic director Colleen Kelley at email@example.com.
— Class of 2017 high school athletes nationwide may apply for the Wendy’s High School Heisman Scholarship at www.WendysHighSchoolHeisman.com. Deadline is Oct. 3.
Contact Brad Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ