Delano senior wide receiver Calvin Wishart has more than 800 yards and nine touchdowns so far this year, his first season back playing football since he was an eighth-grader. Photo by Adam J.S. Holt, SportsEngine
Delano coach Merrill Pavlovich didn’t make an impassioned speech to get Calvin Wishart to come out for his senior year. The Tigers coach saw Wishart at a spring meeting and simply told the incoming senior not to leave Delano with any regrets.
Six games into the season, Delano is 5-1 and 4-0 in district play -- and Wishart, who’s been a revelation at wide receiver, is a big part of that. Wishart hadn’t played football since he was on the B-team his eighth-grade year, but he entered Friday’s game against Annandale among the state leaders in receptions and receiving yards.
The Tigers beat the Cardinals (5-1, 3-1), ranked No. 4 in the Class 3A Associated Press poll, 34-20 Friday night in Delano.
“Pretty much, it was senior year,” Wishart said. ”I didn’t want to graduate with any regrets. My best friends play, we’ve got a brand-new beautiful field. I said I think I can help the team out and I came out.”
Pavlovich said he didn’t try too hard to coax Wishart, who had been using fall to train for basketball, to get out on the gridiron. He just offered some advice.
“I’m going to tell you this: don’t regret something later in life,” Pavlovich said. “If you choose to come out and you don’t like it, you can walk away. There’s no holds barred from me, goodbye. But when you’re my age, look back with a smile on your face that you had a good time. And I think he’s having a good time this year.”
Wishart had 32 catches for 792 yards and eight touchdowns through five games, and saw plenty of attention from Annandale’s defense. As a result, he had just two catches, but one was a 25-yard touchdown to put Delano up 12-0 in the first quarter. He also caught a two-point conversion.
As a program, Delano tends to run the ball. With Wishart’s emergence, the offense has become more balanced.
Wishart wasn’t much of a factor in a season-opening loss to Zimmerman, and he played just two quarters in a Week 2 blowout win. He was also limited in the preseason with an injury. So most of his production has come in just four games this season.
“He brings another ingredient we don’t have,” Pavlovich said. “He can spread the field out, he can stretch the field. He has excellent hops.”
Wishart said he didn’t have expectations this season, after a few years out of the sport, but he was confident he could contribute. A strong run game and good play from quarterback Mike Shoultz have helped Wishart blend right into the offense.
“Shoutout to Pav and Mike and my O-line,” he said. “They make it happen. I just take a little part of basketball; some footwork, some speed, catch the ball, basically. Shoutout to those guys.”
With Wishart commanding double-teams all game, there was room for the running game to shine. Sam Kern had 19 carries for 145 yards, while Caden Link had 19 rushes for 92 yards and two third-quarter touchdowns.
Delano has won five straight games and eyes a high section playoff seed.
Thanks to their new senior weapon, the Tigers are exceptionally dangerous on offense. However the season ends, Wishart said he’s glad he decided to play.
“It’s a great time,” he said. “I’m not going to regret it.”
An early lead was enough for Delano against Annandale on Friday night in a bout between unbeaten teams in East Central South district play.
Delano (5-1, 4-0) went up by 20 in the first quarter and finished a 34-20 home win over the Cardinals, handing Annandale (5-1, 3-1) its first lost of the season.
The Tigers scored three touchdowns in the first quarter, with quarterback Mike Shoultz rushing for one himself, then throwing scores to Calvin Wishart and Tucker Hart.
A fumbled punt in the third quarter helped the Tigers go up 34-13 on a 1-yard run by Caden Link, his second touchdown of the game.
Annandale, which is ranked No. 4 in the Class 3A Associated Press poll, responded with a 44-yard touchdown to Nick Bieniek, but the Cardinals turned the ball over on a promising drive in the fourth quarter.
Shoultz finished 5 of 11 passing for 88 yards and two touchdowns, as well as an interception. Link carried 19 times for 92 yards and two scores. Wishart, the state’s leading receiver through five weeks, had two catches for 29 yards and a touchdown.
Annandale's Leo Healy was 28 for 37 passing for 245 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Carson Helget had 19 carries for 102 yards and two TDS. Walker Weege had 12 catches for 87 yards.
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