Ravens seek first win in Cincinnati since 2011
NORTH EAST — Elkton head coach Matt Feeney remembers the last time long-standing football rivals Elkton and North East clashed in a meaningful game.
It was 2012, the year the Golden Elks—with a defense coached by Feeney—advanced to the 2A state semifinals just three weeks after a regular-season finale against an Indians team with a winning record.
North East, which broke a string of consecutive losing campaigns that season, lost the game decidedly. However, the contest rekindled one of Cecil County’s oldest battles.
Feeney and second-year Indians head coach Chris Schleich expressed their desire to make the meetings between their two teams matter again. North East (0-1) will host Elkton (1-0) tonight in non-divisional action.
“I’ve always said that as long as I’ve been affiliated with Cecil County football, when North East is good and Elkton is good and that rivalry is good, it’s just better for the county,” Feeney said. “You have two of the 2A schools, two of the oldest programs in the county, and it’s probably one of the longest rivalries in the county. If North East is competitive and Elkton is competitive, it just makes for better football. We’re looking forward to a good game Friday night.”
Schleich’s Indians have yet to win a game since he took over the program prior to last fall, but he intends to turn it around through a change in culture. He saw glimpses of it during preseason scrimmages when North East experienced success against several larger schools.
“We want to bring back that rivalry. North East and Elkton have historically gone after each other and that’s what the goal is with our game Friday night,” Schleich said. “Last year we weren’t even in a close game [against Elkton] in any way, shape or form, but historically, in Cecil County, it’s been a good rivalry. If we’re right there at the end and we’re battling them tooth and nail, that’s going to
OWINGS MILLS — Season openers are always critical games, but this one carries extra significance for the Baltimore Ravens.
Baltimore kicks off the 2017 campaign Sunday against a division rival in the Cincinnati Bengals. It’s a chance to set the tone for the season by beating a team that has had the Ravens’ number lately, especially in Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium.
“They’re a division opponent, and they’ve played us tough,” guard Marshal Yanda said Wednesday. “They’ve played better football than us there, and we haven’t done the things we need to do to win. We were talking about it, and in 2011, we ran the ball well. I don’t think we gave up any big plays, stuff like that.”
The Ravens have lost five straight in Cincinnati and six of the last seven overall against the Bengals. Baltimore has found more success against teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots.
One obvious reason for the Ravens’ struggles against the Bengals is that quarterback Joe Flacco has struggled. Over his career, Flacco has thrown 16 touchdown passes against 21 interceptions against Cincinnati.
“It is a tough place to play, and they are a good football team. They have been a good football team for a lot of years now,” Flacco said. “You have to forget about all send a message this this is back and [potentially] for years to come.”
North East will host its home opener after last Friday’s 39-7 road loss to Francis Scott Key. The Indians will enter hoping to snap a lengthy 24-game losing streak stretching back to Oct. 16, 2014.
“Our goal against Elkton is to battle them and make them earn it, make a game of it and be in it at the end, possibly to win. I think that’s going to prove to everybody else, but more importantly to ourselves, that we can be winners and we can go down the stretch in our division and compete well,” Schleich said Wednesday. “We had a great practice today in the pouring rain, we had a team meeting and the kids are still buying in because they believe that they can be better. Of course, our goal is to win every game, but we really want to play competitively to prove to people that we can play at a high level. Then we’re going turn it over against [future opponents] Fallston, Patterson Mill and Joppatowne, and we believe we can win those games.”
Elkton will take the field following a 35-20 home victory over Bohemia Manor to open the season. of that. When you walk into the stadium, you can’t be thinking about all the bad times you have had there. You have to completely wipe those out of your mind and go in with an open mind and act like you have never seen this place before and it is brand new to you,
“I told my guys, ‘Don’t ever count anybody out no matter what the people on the outside may say. If you go into a game with that mindset you can lose. You will lose,’” said Feeney, referencing Howard University’s historic upset win over UNLV in college football action Saturday despite the team being 45-point underdogs. “Any give night. It’s a county game, there’s proximity, these guys played against each other growing up. They know each other. The kids are using their guys’ first names, and I’m sure they’re using our guys’ first names, because it’s just familiarity.
“Anything can happen, and we are by no means overlooking North East. There’s no way.” and when we win this week, it will be a whole new feeling as to how that stadium feels when we walk in it.”
Baltimore’s defense has struggled against the Bengals, too. Most recently, the Ravens were torched by star wide receiver AJ
Follow the 2017 UCBAC Football season on Twitter: @UCBACFootball Green for 227 yards and a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns during a 2015 loss that dropped Baltimore to 0-3 for the first time in franchise history. Green missed both meetings last season.
“I always wished he was going to play. You always want to play against the best,” safety Eric Weddle said of Green. “I’ve played against him a few times in my career, and obviously, [he is] one of the best – if not the best. [He’s] just as talented as they come – route-running ability, playmaking ability. A guy like him, you have to know where he’s at at all times. He can ruin a game – he’s done it before, especially for us. We have to be on our toes, technically sound, and play good team defense to make sure he’s not going to ruin our afternoon.”
Green has been a Raven killer over the years. In 2013, he caught touchdown passes of greater than 50 yards in each meeting. In 2014, he caught a 77-yard game-winning touchdown in the closing minutes.
Green has beat Baltimore with the big play time after time, but he’s not a one-dimensional player.
“People think he is just a onetrick pony. He is not just running the deep ball; he is not just going to run ‘go’ [routes],” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “He is a pretty precise route runner. I don’t think he gets enough credit for that, but we are not fooled over here. We have a young defense, but we also have a veteran one now. We have kind of seen everything. We know that he is not just going to run deep balls. They are going to give him the ball often and early.”
The Ravens added veteran cornerback Brandon Carr and safety Tony Jefferson to the secondary,
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North East quarterback Chase Hollister (17) stands in the pocket and stares down an Elkton pass rush during last year’s contest between the two teams. Hollister and the Indians host the Golden Elks tonight in non-divisional action.
Cincinnati Bengals’ A.J. Green scores on a pass play as Baltimore Ravens’ Jimmy Smith is late on the coverage during the fourth quarter on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.