NEWARK (DE): Inspired by Woodbridge quarterback Troy Haynes’ courageous battle against cancer, the Gold team — led by four of Haynes’ Blue Raiders teammates — scored the final 31 points to win the DFRC Blue-Gold all-star high school football game 38-24 at Delaware Stadium.
The amazing talent of the Sussex team was obviously motivated by Haynes, who was set to be one of the Gold team’s quarterbacks before being diagnosed with kidney cancer. The two-time DIAA Division II champion wore No. 4, and each of his four Woodbridge teammates wore that jersey for the first quarter of the game.
“Since January, we’ve been talking about Troy,” said Caesar Rodney’s Dan Candeloro, the Gold head coach. “It hit the whole football family in the whole state, and the state bought in. The kids bought in. They came in from Day One, they were focused, and they wanted to win for Troy.”
“Fight Like 4” has become a rallying cry, popping up on fundraising T-shirts worn by high school athletes and students across the state. So in a game that involved all of Delaware’s football-playing schools, it was appropriate that a couple of Woodbridge players led the Gold team’s comeback.”, Candeloro said.
Treated to the highest-scoring game in Blue-Gold’s 64 years, a crowd of 7,103 turned out for the first Friday night kickoff in the game’s history.
Blue Raiders running back Jamon Kane was named the game’s outstanding player after rushing for 123 yards and a touchdown. Woodbridge receiver Gabe Wescott received the Gold’s leadership award after scoring twice, on a kickoff return and spectacular reception. Woodbridge linebacker Brock Keeler and lineman Josh Propes also made impacts for the Gold.
The Blue team still leads the overall series 32-29-3, and the upstate stars got off to a great start when two A.I. duPont teammates — quarterback Chad Jones and receiver LeRoy Lynch — hooked up for a 55-yard touchdown pass and a 6-0 lead just 3:20 into the game.
- Caesar Rodney coach Dan Candeloro served as head coach of the Gold team. His assistant coaches were CR’s Brian Berns, Woodbridge’s Jed Bell, First State Military Academy’s Blair Newman, Milford’s Shaun Strickland and Cape Henlopen’s Michael Tkach.
- Blue Team’s head coach was McKean’s Matt Carre. He was joined by McKean’s Shakir Ali and Jerome Wilmore, A.I. du Pont’s John Barr, St. Elizabeth’s Marvin Dooley and Howard’s Dan Ritter as assistant coaches.
- St. Elizabeth’s Marvin Dooley also served as camp director and his assistant camp directors were Preston Grace of Woodbridge, John Wilson of St. Georges and Frank Moffett of Hodgson.
- Newark’s head coach, Jody Russell was the Blue-Gold athletic committee chairperson.
“Troy Haynes is an 18 year old, kind, compassionate, and athletic teenager with big-time aspirations and dreams in his life.”
“On April 26th, Troy was diagnosed with Kidney Cancer and was scheduled for surgery on May 10th to remove his infected kidney and clean the lymph nodes around his kidney and arteries.
According to a Go Fund Me page set up by the Haynes family, “Chemotherapy is still a possibility for Troy, depending on the success of this surgery. Lesions are also on Troy’s lungs, however, at this time, doctors are most concerned with his infected kidney. Troy has been incredibly strong and positive throughout this process, a testament to his strength and support system.”
Troy is described as, “an 18 year old, kind, compassionate, and athletic teenager with big-time aspirations and dreams in his life. Currently, Troy is a senior at Woodbridge High School (Greenwood, DE) with graduation right around the corner. In addition to being a highly respected student, Troy is a highly respected athlete across the state of Delaware. Troy is a very well-known Quarterback – a four year starter, All-State Player, Blue-Gold All-Star game selection, and a two-time State Champion. Troy committed in December to continue his academic and athletic career at Division Three power Mount Union. Troy is loved by many, especially his family, coaches, and teachers.”
The game benefits the Delaware Foundation Reaching Citizens with intellectual disabilities and showcases the state’s top high school senior football players, along with their hand-in-hand buddies as well as cheerleaders, band members and school ambassadors.
There are several ways that students can participate in the DFRC Blue-Gold All★Star Football experience. High school students are designated by their school officials to participate as Ambassadors, Band Members, Cheerleaders, and Football Players. All of these students are integral parts of the Blue-Gold Program and Game each year. Students attending high schools without varsity football teams may still participate as Ambassadors, Band Members, or Cheerleaders.
Many high schools have formed Blue-Gold Clubs, inviting their full student community to share some of the same experiences as those officially chosen to participate in the Game, regarding knowledge and understanding about people who are intellectually challenged. For more information about how to create a high school club, contact the DFRC office at (302) 454-2730 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Initiated in 1994, the Ambassador Program was developed to bring greater awareness, leadership and activity into the high schools on behalf of DFRC. Two seniors and two juniors are selected by faculty, staff and administrative leadership from each Delaware high school. Selections are based upon character, leadership, sensitivity, and compassion for others. Ambassadors help spread DFRC’s message of diversity and acceptance throughout their schools and communities, along with hosting fundraisers for DFRC. Banners representing each high school are created by the Ambassadors and are displayed at Blue-Gold events and on Game Day.
One of the largest groups in the Blue-Gold Program is the DFRC Blue-Gold All★Star Football Marching Band. All high school band musicians and band front in grades 9 – 12 are encouraged to participate. Band members must have the recommendation of their band director/music department chair and school principal. There is no limit to the number of band members who may participate. A student’s school does not need to have a football team or a regular marching band in order for students to participate. Senior band members are also encouraged to participate in the Hand-in-Hand Program where they will be matched with a child or young adult with an intellectual disABILITY.
Senior cheerleaders are nominated by their school’s football cheerleading coach and principal to participate. If a school does not have a football program, cheerleaders from the general school squad may be nominated. Three cheerleaders may be nominated from each high school based upon their character, skill, school spirit and dedication.
Players are nominated by their own high school Head Football Coach, and then approved by their school’s Athletic Director and Principal through a character verification process. All-State or All-Conference athletes are not automatically selected to play in the Blue-Gold Game. All players nominated must meet Blue-Gold character standards. The Blue and Gold Head Coaches, selected by The Delaware Interscholastic Football Coaches Association (DIFCA), then select team players to play in the Game from the nominees submitted.
Thirty-six players are selected for each team. The Blue Team consists of players from most high schools in New Castle County. The Gold Team is comprised of players from all high schools in Kent and Sussex counties, as well as the Christina and Appoquinimink District high schools. Each high school with a Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association sanctioned football team that has qualified seniors will have at least one representative on a Blue-Gold squad each year, however no school may have more than four representatives in a single year.
The Hand-in-Hand Program is the very heart of DFRC’s Blue-Gold Program. One of its major goals is to spread awareness and promote a better understanding of the abilities of people who are intellectually challenged. Since 1974, high school participants have been offered the unique opportunity, through the Hand-in-Hand Program, to be paired with a child or young adult with an intellectual disABILITY, their “Buddy.”