Team starts season with one loss, one win

By Kevin Cunningham

Correspondent

The Delavan-Darien football program has changed, starting this season. The change will last for at least two seasons, as Delavan-Darien – as of last winter – has signed a co-op with Williams Bay.

For the 2017 and 2018 football seasons, the program will be referred to as Delavan-Darien/Williams Bay.

“When you sign a co-op, it’s a two-year co-op, so you sign on for two years,” said Bret A. Arnauld, Delavan-Darien/Williams Bay head coach. “In two years, Williams Bay will then see if they can start their football program up again. I don’t know if they will be able to or not, and at that point in time, we’ll have to look for ourselves if we want to renew or not.

“Because, we take on Williams Bay’s enrollment, and that could potentially push us up a division. It’s something that after two years we’ll have to re-visit and weigh the pros and cons. It just became valid because the school boards agreed, and we got that paper work in on time.”

St Arnauld said five players were brought over from Williams Bay. One has gotten injured, another is a freshman who is playing at the junior varsity level, one is a starting offensive guard, one is a starting wide receiver and the last is a starting linebacker.

 

Season begins

With the 2017 season under way, the Delavan-Darien/Williams Bay football program has played in two games. The first resulted in a 28-point loss to Lodi, while the second ended in a 10-point victory over Mayville.

St Arnauld said despite losing key players from last year’s team that made it to the second round of the postseason, the Comets remain solid.

“I think that we will surprise people,” the fourth-year head coach said. “We lost Jake, we lost Ethan and we lost Ryan, I get that – and our whole senior class were all contributors to our season last year – but we have solid players that people don’t know about. Because they’ve been overshadowed by what we’ve had in the past, for instance, Dakota Williams ran for almost 200 yards on Friday, but Dakota was relatively quiet last year just because of what we had.

“These other kids that are finally getting their opportunity – they’re going to really surprise people with their abilities. In the first game, I had seven kids who were potentially starters that were on the bench due to suspension or injury. Unfortunately, Lodi is one of the best teams in the state in Division 4 and we had to go against them down seven kids.”

With Delavan-Darien/Williams Bay hampered by starters being out, the Comets entered the second quarter tied at 0-0, but once halftime came, the team trailed 21-0. The score reached 34-0 in the fourth quarter before the Comets scored their first touchdown of the season.

The score came from senior quarterback Dakota Williams, who ran it in from 18 yards out. The final score against Lodi was 34-6.

One week later, the team hosted Mayville for the Comets’ first home game of the season.

While the program has added Williams Bay over the offseason, each home game is still being played at Delavan-Darien High School. Against Mayville on Aug. 25, the Comets gave up the first score of the game and responded with another Williams run to make the game 7-6 in favor of Mayville.

From the second quarter on, however, Delavan-Darien/Williams Bay took control of the game thanks to Williams running in two more scores and throwing another to senior receiver Eric Norton. Williams finished with 61 yards passing, but 196 yards rushing to go along with his three rushing scores and the touchdown pass.

Alongside Williams’ rushing was Mike Maldonado, adding 55 yards on 10 carries. Delavan-Darien/Williams Bay led Mayville in the fourth quarter 24-7 before surrendering a touchdown with six second left to make the final score, 24-14. With the win, the Comets are now 1-1 on the season.

“This is Dakota’s first year at quarterback, I think, ever,” St Arnauld said. “Maybe he’s taken a few snaps at quarterback over the course of his life, but this is his first time really being a quarterback. He’s a great runner. This is a kid who goes 110 percent every single play. I mean, he doesn’t take a play off, ever.

“I never want to ask kids to tone it down a bit, but I actually have to ask him, like, ‘Hey, can you not try and run that defender over and go out of bounds, because I need you for the entire season?’ I mean, he’s the type of kid who is given the chance to lower his shoulder, he will lower his shoulder. I’m like, you’re a quarterback now, you’re not a receiver. What he brings to the table is something I wish every single senior class had. It’s similar to what Ryan Genglar was last year. Dakota brings leadership and he talks the talk and walks the walk.”

St Arnauld said this year’s offense is like none other in his previous three years at Delavan-Darien, because the team will likely be more run-focused, and the offensive line has created holes early.

He said the only starter playing the same position from a year ago is at left tackle. Three guys are returning starters, but the other two shuffled along the offensive line. He said it will take a few games to figure out, but going from game one to game two was like night and day.

“Up front, we’ve got some big, athletic boys,” St. Arnauld said. “As far as skill positions, Mike Maldonado is back at running back for the first time in two years and backing him up is Eric Gonzalez who also hasn’t carried it in probably two years. At receiver, Logan Rios is quick and shifty and is a prototypical slot receiver. He’s going to be big for us.

“And then we honestly have a stable of receivers. We have like six of them rotating in and out. Aside from that, we’ll be all right. It’s not as though one kid is 10 times better than the others, they just all bring something different to the table. It really depends on who we face as far as what personnel we go with.”

S.t Arnauld said the Comets’ defense has recorded five interceptions in two games. He said the front six or seven are relatively new and, the Lodi game, in which the team allowed 34 points, was many kids’ first varsity game.

“I hope our first two games have prepared us for this one against Wilmot,” St. Arnauld said. “They’re predicted to win conference this year. They have a three-year starter at quarterback, a three-year starter at running back, a first-team all-conference linebacker is back and their offensive and defensive lines are back – all from last year. I mean, they graduated some seniors, but not a lot. That team last year I think was second-place in conference and lost just one game. They’re a good team.

“We’ll have to limit our mistakes, control the clock and keep their offense off the field as much as possible. … I know we’re going to have to play our best game to win, but I know it’s possible.”

St. Arnauld left this final message: Don’t sleep on Delavan.

 
 

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