Ravens seek first win in Cincin­nati since 2011

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By JOR­DAN SCHATZ jschatz@ce­cil­whig.com By SEAN GRO­GAN sgro­gan@ce­cil­whig.com

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,

See RAVENS Page B4

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

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.

TNS PHOTO

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.

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