Walsh, Henriques are runners to watch
Tristan Rodgers of the Delhi Raiders, right, gathered in this onside kick Friday for a big gainer up the field. It was all for naught however as the Waterford Wolves dominated the visitors en route to a 35-13 win. MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER
A speedy running back who can change direction on a dime is a great asset for any football team.
That running back in Norfolk County for the past several years was Ryan Isenor of the Delhi Raiders. It was nothing for Isenor to rack up four or five touchdowns a game. Needless to say, his contribution was usually decisive.
Isenor has moved on to college ball. In 2017, his place in Norfolk could be taken by Connor Walsh of the Waterford Wolves.
Walsh demonstrated some Isenor-like flourishes Friday as he led his team to a 35-13 win at home against these same Delhi Raiders. Walsh scored two touchdowns and had a third called back on a penalty following an 80-yard romp.
This is Walsh’s third year with the Wolves. By all appearances, he appears ready to bust a move – as does the rest of his team.
“We can play a lot better than this,” Walsh said after the game. “With a little more practice we’ll really be kicking butt.”
Whether Walsh emerges with the dominant ground game remains to be seen. Raiders’ speedster Dante Henriques might have something to say about that before the season is over.
Many in Norfolk already know Henriques as a provincial-class sprinter in track-and-field. He played his first football game Friday as a Raider and accounted for both of his team’s touchdowns.
One of them came on a 100-yard kickoff return while the second came on a 70-yard punt return. On both plays Henriques literally left Waterford defenders in the dust.
“When I get the ball I want to make sure I stay away from the enemy team and don’t get hit hard,” Henriques said afterward. “I watch for my teammates and follow their blocks. I try to squeeze out as many yards as I can. Today it worked out. I got two touchdowns.”
The first half ended 14-7 in Waterford’s favour. As the final score indicates, the Wolves dominated in the second half.
That may have had something to do with Waterford having the deeper, more experienced bench. It was a scorching hot afternoon for football, with coaches on both teams agreeing to give the players frequent water breaks and opportunities to remove their helmets to radiate some heat.
Thanks to its deep reserves, Waterford was able to rotate players in and out before they overheated. It was too much for the Raiders, who are fielding a younger team this season.
It’s been a long time since a Norfolk County rival has dominated the Raiders in this fashion. Raiders coach Dave Leatherland hopes it’s not a sign of things to come, noting that his team is a work in progress.
“I hate to use the word ‘rebuilding,’” Leatherland said. “But we are a young team. A lot of mistakes were made today due to inexperience.
“But we have a lot more games to go to improve. A lot of these players were on the field for the first time. But we will improve. We were sloppy today and we need to clean that up. And we will. Our goal is to get better every week. Let’s see where we are at the end of the season.”
Josh McKay also had a noteworthy game for the Wolves. He too scored a pair of touchdowns on the ground. One was on a running play from scrimmage while the other was a nifty 40-yard run on an interception.
In other high school football action, the defending champs from McKinnon Park defeated the Valley Heights Bears Friday afternoon 36-20 in Caledonia.
There will be an opportunity for high school football fans in Simcoe to enjoy some action Saturday, Sept. 23, when Holy Trinity Catholic High School in Simcoe plays host to their cross-town rivals from Simcoe Composite School. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.