The annual DFRC Blue-Gold All-Star football game is a Delaware sports tradition like none other. From very young ages, youth football players dream of one day getting the opportunity to perform on the state’s grandest football stage – Delaware Stadium.
This year, when the game kicks off June 21 at 7 p.m., it will be the first time it does so on a Friday night in the event’s 64-year history.
“We are going to save $8,000 by moving it one day earlier,” DFRC executive director Tony Glenn explained. “So if DFRC can find a way to get more money out to the folks who need it, that’s our first priority.”
Three Christina School District players will have the opportunity to play on Tubby Raymond Field.
Newark’s Dayton Swanhart, Christiana’s Warrick Galbert and Glasgow’s Anthony DeSanta will suit up for the Blue team, which includes 36 players representing schools from above the C & D Canal. Players are nominated by their head coaches and then selected by a committee of coaches from the Delaware Interscholastic Football Coaches Association. Players must be not only standout football players, but good citizens in their schools and communities.
Swanhart led the Yellowjackets in tackles (72) and sacks (4) while also serving as the team’s captain.
“Dayton was the heart and soul of our defense,” Newark first-year head coach Jody Russell, who last year served as a Yellowjacket assistant, said. “He is a very intelligent football player who is always in the right spot. His leadership as a team captain on and off the field was outstanding.”
Swanhart is excited to be part of the tradition, realizing the experience is far more than just another football game.
“Newark football taught me about tradition and how it's important to a program,” Swanhart said shortly after finishing up the squad’s first practice on Monday morning. “The Blue-Gold game has been around for 64 years and it's another great example of something that carries tradition with it. This will be my last time ever playing football with the pads on, and I couldn't have hoped for a better scenario. Plus, just being out there knowing who I'm playing for, especially my buddy Josh [Grieten], who I've become so close to. It's really a special game to be playing in, and I'm excited to have the chance.”
Josh is one of the “buddies” in the Hand-to-Hand program, which matches up each player with a child or young adult who has an intellectual disability. Players and their buddies share social experiences in the months leading up to the game, some organized by DFRC and others arranged independently by the football players and buddies.
“I learned a lot about Josh as I got to know him better throughout the school year,” Swanhart explained. “Just how much joy he brings with him, and he is just so awesome to be around. The excitement we both had while talking to each other was always the same, and he's really someone I always want to stay in touch with. We got to hang out at my house a couple of times and play the PlayStation. We hung out at his house, and sometimes we'd just hang out and talk in his classroom or the library. I wanted to have a real relationship with Josh, and I'm so glad we have one because he really is just an awesome guy.”
Galbert was a three-sport athlete at Christiana, wrestling in the winter – he finished sixth in the state meet – and playing baseball in the spring. He played both fullback and offensive guard on the gridiron, always having two different jerseys with the legal number for each on hand so he could rotate positions depending on the team’s need.
“He leads by example on and off of the field of play, refusing to accept anything less than his best effort and inspiring others toward that same ideal,” said Steve Grundy, dean of students at Christiana.
Galbert excelled in the classroom as well, carrying a 3.0 GPA with a rigorous academic schedule, which led to his acceptance at the University of Delaware.
“I can attest to his commitment to his education,” said Grundy, who taught Galbert in honors pre-calculus. “His strength of character is evident daily in his demeanor and attitude. He is able to balance his involvement with extracurricular activities with his commitment to academic classes, and able to achieve excellence in all areas.”
DeSanta wrapped up his career at Glasgow tallying 30 tackles and three sacks. He also wrestled and played lacrosse for the Dragons.
“He is a quality individual,” former Glasgow head coach Michael Richardson said. “He shows up to work every day to get himself and his teammates better.”
McKean head coach Matt Carre is the head coach for the Blue team and Caesar Rodney’s Dan Candeloro is coaching the Gold squad. Tickets can be purchased at the game.
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