Scout­ing the 2A East Re­gion Foot­ball Fi­nal

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By JOR­DAN SCHATZ

jschatz@ce­cil­whig.com

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

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