Golden Elks shut down Mus­tangs

Estep rushes for 213 yards, 3 TDs

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By JOR­DAN SCHATZ

ELK­TON

jschatz@ce­cil­whig.com

— On both sides of the foot­ball Fri­day night, Elk­ton show­cased the dom­i­nat­ing style of play that earned the team a trip to last year’s 2A East Re­gion Fi­nal— that is, when it wasn’t draw­ing a flag from the of­fi­cials.

In be­tween the nearly 200 yards of penal­ties they racked up, the Golden Elks proved as ef­fec­tive on of­fense as they were on de­fense, scor­ing five touch­downs of 20 yards or more and pitch­ing a shutout to record a con­vinc­ing 31-0, sea­son-open­ing vic­tory over vis­it­ing C.M. Wright.

“De­fen­sively, shutout, swarm­ing, just do­ing what they do and do­ing what we ex­pect them to do, even though we shot our­selves in the foot. The penal­ties ab­so­lutely can’t hap­pen. I’ve never seen any­thing like it. I’m baf­fled that we had so many penal­ties against us. It’s in­sane,” Elk­ton head coach Matt Feeney said. “I can’t be­lieve it’s 31-0 and I feel the way I do right now. I’ve never been in this po­si­tion.

“We know what we’re ca­pa­ble of and tonight was more about us get­ting in our own way. We get out of our own way, I think we can move the foot­ball and have suc­cess.”

Three per­sonal foul penal­ties against the Elks de­fense on the open­ing drive al­lowed the Mus­tangs to move the ball the length of the field to the op­pos­ing 25-yard line, but three straight stops on con­sec­u­tive run­ning plays fol­lowed by an in­com­plete pass turned the ball over on downs.

On Elk­ton’s en­su­ing de­fen­sive se­ries, C.M. Wright ran twice for mi­nus-6 yards be­fore safety J’Qwan Ben­son stepped in front of quar­ter­back Michael Starkey’s pass across the mid­dle and re­turned it across mid­field to the 32-yard line.

“We’re try­ing to show how we’re go­ing to be all year [on de­fense],” se­nior de­fen­sive line­man Mar­quis Byrd said. “The de­fen­sive line did well. I was sur­prised, for real. We had a bad prac­tice, but com­ing out here and get­ting a shutout, it means a lot.”

Later in the quar­ter, Ben­son put Elk­ton (1-0) on the board as a re­ceiver when he hauled in a short pass from se­nior quar­ter­back Jack­son Ar­goe and out-raced the de­fend­ers for a 61-yard score.

“Me and [Ben­son] have played be­fore in lit­tle league, so the con­nec­tion has al­ways kind of been there,” Ar­goe said. “That’s just the ex­tra work be­fore prac­tice and af­ter prac­tice.”

Fri­day marked the first game in the purple and gold for Ar­goe, who trans­ferred in the off­sea­son to Elk­ton from Delaware’s Car­avel Academy. His ar­rival prompted Ben­son, who started Elk­ton’s play­off games at quar­ter­back last year, to move to re­ceiver and de­fen­sive back.

The pair later hooked up for a 26yard touch­down when Ar­goe es­caped from the pocket and found Ben­son on a bro­ken play, who dove across the goal line for Elk­ton’s fourth score of the night. Ar­goe ended the con­test 8-for-16 pass­ing for 177 yards, two touch­downs and one in­ter­cep­tion. He also scram­bled four times for 53 yards.

“What more could you want?” Feeney said of Ar­goe. “He’s an ath­lete. He can run, he can throw, he’s smart, he’s a leader. He’s ex­actly what you want lead­ing your team. He’s been a bless­ing.”

While the Elks found suc­cess through the air, the bulk of their yards came on the ground.

Reign­ing All-County Of­fen­sive Player of the Year Raiquon Estep be­gan his ju­nior sea­son by rush­ing for three touch­downs, fin­ish­ing the con­test with 15 car­ries for 213 rush­ing yards.

Estep’s long­est rush of the night— a 74-yard touch­down run up the mid­dle—gave the Elks a 19-0 advantage late in the first half.

“We know what we have on the of­fen­sive side of the ball,” Feeney said of Estep. “One guy, he gets that hole, he gets that crease and he can flip the game just like that, and that’s what he did. We’ll take it.”

The run­ning back gave Elk­ton a 12-0 lead with a 22-yard touch­down run, be­fore cap­ping the scor­ing with a 46-yard scor­ing rush with less than three minutes re­main­ing in the con­test.

Fri­day rep­re­sented Elk­ton’s sec­ond sea­son-open­ing vic­tory over the Mus­tangs (0-1) in as many years af­ter it de­feated the Ch­e­sa­peake Di­vi­sion foe, 32-24, last Septem­ber. The Elks went onto win nine reg­u­lar-sea­son con­tests to earn the third seed in the 2A East Re­gion play­offs.

“I feel like we an­swered [our crit­ics] but we still have a lot of work to do,” Ar­goe said. “We just have to go off this win and im­prove to get bet­ter for next week.”

Fol­low Jor­dan Schatz on Twit­ter: @Jor­dan_Whig

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JOR­DAN SCHATZ

Elk­ton ju­nior run­ning back Raiquon Estep looks to move up­field dur­ing the Golden Elks’ 31-0 win over vis­it­ing C.M. Wright in non-di­vi­sional foot­ball ac­tion on Fri­day. Estep fin­ished the game with 15 rushes for 213 yard and three touch­downs.

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