1,000 catch football game under the lights in Delhi
Anthony Abele of the Delhi Raiders scored one of his two touchdowns against the Waterford Wolves Friday night on this play. The Raiders defeated the Wolves by a score of 34-6. MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER
It looks with each passing game that the Delhi Raiders will have a big say in who wins the Haldimand-Norfolk football title this year.
On Friday, the Raiders avenged their semi-final loss last year to the Waterford Wolves with a convincing 34-6 victory at Delhi District Secondary School.
This was the Raiders’ sole night game of the year, one played under a bank of 13 diesel-powered floodlights as part of the school’s annual Friday Night Lights celebration.
The game has been a big event in Delhi for the last five years. And each time the Raiders have risen to the occasion with a big win. Friday’s dominant victory continued the trend.
“WDHS put us out of the playoffs last year,” Raiders coach Dave Leatherland said. “Our boys remembered that and wanted to get back on the winning side against them. It was a good game. It was closer than the score might indicate.”
Conditions were perfect for a night game in Norfolk County. The air was cool but not chilly and there was no precipitation to speak of. The game attracted more than 1,000 spectators despite major entertainment at the Norfolk County Fair and commencements at Waterford District High School and Simcoe Composite School.
“It’s the high point of the whole year,” said DDSS principal Lynn Abbey. “The turnout is great and it’s a great night for football. Our community loves our school and our school loves the community back.”
Funds raised by Friday Night Lights are earmarked for athletic programs at DDSS. It can cost as much as $4,000 to send a Raider team to a regional or provincial championship. The athletics department at DDSS has decided that champion students shouldn’t be out of pocket for their own success.
“We deeply appreciate the support we get from the Delhi community and now the Norwich community,” says event chair Gary Mawhiney. “They’re part of our school community now too. We truly appreciate their support. I’m proud to be a member of this town.”
Defence was key to Delhi’s dominant performance. The Wolves didn’t get on the scoreboard until the final minute of the game. Waterford failed to convert the touchdown, which was scored by Carter Walsh, making the final score 34-6.
Waterford has a lot of players who have been thrust into starting assignments for the first time. Coach Derek Rowntree said they will have to practise hard over the next few weeks if they hope to be competitive in the playoffs.
“We have to contain better on defence and block better on offence,” he said. “We have to move the ball. We need to give our quarterback (Michael Cooper) more time. They had good blitzes and were in our backfield all the time. It’s hard to make good throws when you’re always running for your life.”
Ryan Isenor scored three touchdowns for the Raiders while kicking one conversion. Anthony Abele scored two touchdowns for Delhi while kicking three conversions.
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