Scouting the 2A East Region Football Final
Third-seeded Elkton will host fourth-seeded North Caroline in the 2A East Region Final on Friday in a rematch from the same round last year. The Elks will attempt to earn revenge and make the state semifinals for the first time since 2012, while the Bulldogs will look to end Elkton’s season for a second-straight year.
What Elkton needs to do to win: Last week, Elkton showcased its ability to smother one-dimensional run teams by holding Queen Anne’s to just 71 yards rushing on 31 carries. With North Caroline taking the field having thrown the ball just three times compared to 44 rushes for 208 yards in last week’s win over Kent Island, the Golden Elks will once again channel all of their energy toward slowing the opposition’s ground game.
Elkton must control the line of scrimmage, be able to corral the Bulldogs’ offensive backfield, namely David Bailey, and bring consistent pressure on the quarterback during obvious passing downs.
Offensively, the Elks’ offensive line must maintain their blocks to open holes for junior running back Raiquon Estep, who is quick and shifty enough to turn any handoff into a home run.
“They’re tough. We’ve been watching their film all year,” Elks coach Matt Feeney said of North Caroline. “They’ve got athletes, they’ve got size and they’re famil- iar. You know they knocked us out last year when we went down there, and we’re looking forward to hosting them this year.”
What North Caroline needs to do to win: Continue to execute on both ends of the ball, which the Bulldogs did very well last week in an upset of Kent Island, the re- gion’s top seed. In the region semifinal, North Caroline capitalized on two trips deep into enemy territory and shut out the Bucs over the final three quarters.
Defensively, the Bulldogs must find a way to stop Estep for four quarters, after he rebounded from a tough first half against Queen Anne’s last week to finish the game with 164 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries.
What to expect: A defensive battle, which would be par for the course for both teams this postseason. If Elkton can notch the first score, the Golden Elks will be able to settle into a defensive mindset, one that worked to perfection against Queen Anne’s. Likewise, an early Bulldogs tally could deflate an otherwise confident Elkton squad.
X-factor: Not that motivation is needed in a game of this magnitude, but a loss to North Caroline in the region final last season will be driving the Elkton players when they take the field on Friday. Earning revenge over the team that threw the knockout punch last November will be added incentive for an Elks squad looking to make the state semifinals for the first time since 2012.
The fact the Elks are playing on their own field, where they are unbeaten this season and where they have a chance to win a region title in front of their home crowd, could also play into the final outcome.
Follow Jordan Schatz on Twitter: @Jordan_Whig