Caldarelli, Elks break away for win over Panthers
He may be in his first year as head coach of the Bohemia Manor football team, but Joe Graf is quite familiar with the rivalry that exists between the Eagles and Perryville.
After playing with Bo Manor on the 2002 state championship team and later accepting an assistant coaching job with his alma mater, Graf has personally experienced the annual contest that takes place between Cecil County’s only 1A East Region programs.
“It is a big rivalry and it’s not a game we have to build up as coaches at all,” Graf said. “The coaching staffs know each other very well, [Perryville coach] Chris [Johnson] does a tremendous job of preparing for teams, especially conference games, and the kids know each other. It’s two of the more decorated teams in Cecil County history.”
Although the Panthers struggled to make the playoffs when Graf played quarterback, the contest has taken on a greater magnitude since Perryville hired Johnson prior to the 2011 season. Over the past six years, no Cecil County team has won more games than the Panthers, making this annual meeting a critical contest in the race for the postseason.
Both teams will face off tonight, with playoff fates once again hanging in the balance.
“This is the kind of game that makes football fun because you’ve got two rivals that know each other really well. The games have always been very competitive one way or the other,” Johnson said. “We’re both in the same region, so this game has a lot of importance. I know Bo’s coaches are telling their kids that and we’re telling our kids that. I told them to be ready for a very physical game.”
The importance of tonight’s game is made more obvious by last year’s outcome, when Bo Manor edged Perryville 27-19, eventually finishing the year with one more win than the Panthers and advancing to the region playoffs as the fourth — and final — seed.
“To get where we want to be, this is an important game. It’s the only school in the region that we Special to the Whig
— Ready to put their rough start behind them, the Golden Elks quickly turned a corner on Tuesday night.
Elkton scored three times in just 10 minutes early in the second half, turning a tight game into a 5-3 Susquehanna Division victory at home over Perryville.
Both teams entered the match with just one win on the season and battled to a 2-2 tie at the half. Suddenly, the Elks offense went into constantly are battling with for a playoff spot. To get where we want to be and have a home playoff game, this is extremely important,” Graf said. “Us two teams have been competing for two of the four playoff spots for at least six straight years now.”
Both teams enter tonight’s contest with similar blueprints on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Through five games, both offenses have found success rushing the football, with Bo Manor (3-2) focusing their attack around junior Bobby McLennan (nine rushing touchdowns), while Perryville (2-3) has had success handing the ball off to senior Zac Zacerous (four rushing scores last week).
The Panthers, currently seeded fourth in the region, return home after playing four consecutive games on the road. The Eagles, ranked second in the region, are undefeated at home and winless on the road.
“I think the game will come down to which team plays more mentally tough and doesn’t turn the ball over,” Graf said. “We’re mirror images of each other: We’re going to play solid defense and run the ball to set up a big play on offense. One mistake, one penalty, one miscue could decide this game.” overdrive. Senior forward Emily Caldarelli led the way, scoring two of her three goals during the rally.
“Their record doesn’t show it, but they’ve been constantly getting better in all aspects of the game,” Elkton first-year coach David Lowell said. “They just need to know how good they are.”
Uncer tainty plagued the Elks (2-3-1 overall, 2-0 division) at the start of the fall, as Caldarelli and other key players were sidelined with injuries. With nearly everyone back, Lowell now has the option to substitute players in and out, a luxury most coaches take for granted.
Each squad battled equally for possession in the first half. Caldarelli put her team on top in the 16th minute. Running full steam with the ball from the middle of the field, she thread the needle between two defenders, outrunning them both before punching it past goalkeeper Shannon Poole.
“I got a ball played up from the top from Kristina Keithley and I just saw the opening,” she said. “Perryville didn’t make it easy.
“They had really good defense. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. (Midfielder) Allison Rogers on the
Johnson foresees the contest being decided in the final minutes.
“I think it will be one of those games where it will come down to the fourth quarter and who can make plays in the fourth quarter,” Johnson said. “There’s so much familiarity, it’s almost like an NFL game with two teams from the same division. You can almost throw the records out because of how well the teams will be prepared for one another.
“I love to be coaching, and I wouldn’t want be doing anything different, but if I wasn’t coaching, I’d be in the stands going to this game.”
Follow the 2016 UCBAC Football season on Twitter: @UCBACFootball left wing, she’s like my other half on the field.”
The Panthers (1-6, 0-3) answered right back three minutes later on Alex Koons’ corner kick that sailed into the net. Perryville briefly took its only lead of the match when Maddie Carr snagged the ball from Elk defenders inside the box and scored the first of her two goals.
Elkton re-tied the game less than the minute later, however, on a goal from midfielder Delaney Shertz, who was assisted by a well-placed cross pass from Keithley.
The Elks took the lead for good 3:21 into the second half when Caldarelli scored after Rogers’ attempt bounced in and out of Poole’s hands. Rogers got a second chance three minutes later and didn’t miss, making it a 4-2 game. Caldarelli put the final stamp on the frenzy with her third goal.
“It’s hard for your MVP to also be your unsung hero,” Lowell said of Caldarelli. “She brings more to the field than people see from the stands. She’s very unselfish and has a good shot. She picks up passes well and she’s the equivalent of having a coach on the field. All I can do is yell from the sidelines and sometimes they can’t hear me. She already knows what needs to be said.”
Elkton stacked players on defense as time ticked off the clock. The Panthers didn’t score their third goal until the 73rd minute.
“I’ll take the hit for [the three-goal swing],” Perryville coach Cay Weller said. “We switched up positions and Elkton took advantage. They shoved it down our throats. I’m happy because that’s the most intensity we’ve had when we’ve been down more than one goal. That’s what we’re trying to teach the girls, not to look at the scoreboard.”
As the Elks continue into the conference-heavy portion of their schedule, they hope to stay healthy and put together more dominant surges.
“If they keep playing the way they have been and believe that they’re a great team, they’ll be fine,” Lowell said.
Perryville will host Bohemia Manor Susquehanna Division football action tonight.