With Caesar Rodney and Dover high schools losing their first conference games of the year last weekend, no squad is left undefeated in the Henlopen as the conference hits the stretch run.
In recent years, a loss in the Henlopen Conference North Division in football could have almost served as a death sentence in a quest for a division title.
That trend is not intact this year, however, as everyone seems to be beating everyone and the chance to claim a championship is still up in the air with three weeks remaining.
That includes Caesar Rodney (4-3, 2-1) and Dover (5-2, 2-1) high schools, which
each lost their first conference game of the season last weekend.
The Riders fell to Sussex Central High School (4-3, 3-1), 29-22, and the Senators lost to Cape Henlopen High School (4-3, 1-2), 25-24, both on Oct. 22.
With the losses, both teams and Central are tied for first in the North, with Sussex Tech High School (4-3, 3-2) and Cape Henlopen following right behind.
Carlton Brown, head coach for Dover, said he is not surprised how things have laid out seven weeks into the season.
The Henlopen North, Brown said, is always tough and any team can beat anyone on any night, as exemplified by Smyrna beating Sussex Tech, 47-41, Oct. 22.
“You just never know who’s going to win,” he said. “The prime example, who would’ve thought Smyrna would take Tech the way they did? But I’ve said before, Smyrna is a good football team, just like Cape. We’ve got young, hungry football teams that come out ready to play.”
Each year in the Henlopen, before the season begins the landscape can usually be laid out just through an on-paper analysis, Caesar Rodney Head Coach Mike Schonewolf said.
But with so many question marks in each program this year, Schonewolf said, the current standings right now are a direct reflection of what coaches thought of the conference before the season began.
“As it’s panning out there’re a lot of teams with the same ability,” he said. “That makes it awful exciting when you’re going into the lineup of games for the weekend.”
Both CR and Dover have tough games this weekend, as they’ll be on the road at Sussex Tech and Sussex Central high schools, respectively, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct.29.
The Senators find themselves in control of their own destiny for the rest of the year, where if they win out they’ll be crowned conference champions.
“As much as it hurt to lose last Friday, we’re still in the driver’s seat,” Brown said. “Normally you don’t get that after a loss. Normally you need help, and we still do need help, we’ve got to help ourselves.”
CR, on the other hand, is in need of some help, and that help is going to have to come from their cross-town rivals.
“Anybody likes to be in the position where they have the ability to control what happens to them, but I’m not sure that we do,” Schonewolf said. “We need Central to lose a game here. Dover needs to beat them and we need to finish out to win the conference.”
If the Senators manage to come out of Central with a win and CR leaves Tech with a victory, both teams will enter week eight atop the standings.
That could set up an interesting situation if both teams are able to win their games after that, as the final weekend of the season would see the Riders and Senators in a game that determined the Henlopen North champ.
“We could’ve set ourselves up pretty by winning last Friday,” Brown said. “But it is what it is. Now we have to play each week like it’s a championship week.”
WHO Dover High School (5-2, 2-1) at Sussex Central High School (4-3, 3-1)
WHEN 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29
WHERE 26026 Patriots Way, Georgetown
WHO Caesar Rodney High School (4-3, 2-1) at Sussex Tech High School (4-3, 3-2)
WHEN 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29
WHERE Sussex Tech Raven Stadium, 17099 County Seat Highway, Georgetown
Email Brian Citino at email@example.com