ELKTON — Entering its mid-season clash against second-ranked — and undefeated — Elkton, No. 1 Havre de Grace had an opportunity to remain unbeaten themselves and stake an early claim for the Chesapeake Division crown.
Behind a dominating secondhalf performance, which featured 32 unanswered points, the Warriors (6-0 overall, 3-0 division) upended Elkton (5-2, 2-1) with a 39-14 win Friday. They appear to be clicking on all cylinders as they aim to make a run for a third straight 1A state championship game appearance, their first state crown since 1986, and fourth overall title in program history.
Entering halftime trailing 14-7, and having missed several opportunities inside Elkton territory, the Warriors looked to their leader during the intermission.
“Coach Brian [Eberhardt] said it’s nothing to do with [our] game plan or anything, [but] it’s all in our hearts and stuff,” junior quar- terback Alex Gresock said of his coach’s halftime speech. “‘We need get out there, play physical and want this win’. When we came out, I think it was 32 or 33 unanswered points, [which] shows that we came out with some fire.”
Gresock did his part to fuel the big second half. After finding his trusted senior receiver Jordan Day earlier in the game for a 50 yard score, he continued his air assault in the third quarter by finding Day for a 63-yard touchdown pass that cut the deficit to one point (14-13 Elkton).
“He’s a big-time player and bigtime players show up in big-time games. [And] that’s exactly what he did.” Eberhardt said of Day. “We’re talking about a kid that’s going to play another four years after he graduates, and you saw why tonight.”
Greysock later found Christian Penrow for a 47-yard pass that set up a 6-yard rushing touchdown by Sean Greeley. A 5-yard touchdown pass to Jordan White, who ripped the ball away from an Elkton defensive back in the end zone, put the game out of reach.
After six games, the Warriors offense is averaging 39.1 points per game.
“I knew my wideouts’ abilities and I knew they could beat them [down field].” Gresock said. “I don’t mean that to be arrogant, but they are really good and I trust them to get open. [This win] feels great, especially against a tough opponent like Elkton. [It’s a] really great win. It shows that we can score against anyone and we have a real good line.
“At first we couldn’t get those big plays going, but then in the second half we started grounding and pounding [with our running game] and it started opening up those big plays. It shows we can adapt to what we need to do.”
Gresock, who took over at quarterback following the departure of Mikey Flosser, has proven he can handle running the offense in his first season — and also put up huge numbers while he’s at it. His skillset not only allows him to get the ball to his playmakers, but also scramble for large gains when needed.
Although the offense has kept the scoreboard operator busy this season, the defense and special teams have also been a huge reason for the Warriors’ success. On Friday, the defensive front, led by Reggie Marks and Jesse Fenner, found success against Elkton, holding consensus All-State running back Raiquon Estep to just one rushing touchdown.
Elkton players were visibly frustrated by the power-kicking leg of consensus All State placekicker Clay Harris, who, even on a slow night (two blocked field goals), made a difference with multiple touchbacks that pinned the Elk’ offense at their own 20yard line repeatedly
Day was one of the Havre de Grace players that shined on both sides of the ball, building on his two offensive touchdowns with impactful tackles in the secondary and a first-half interception in Elkton territory.
“Our defense is very physical, [and] we will out-physical anybody, that’s our motto. We’re going to out-physical the other team and that’s what we did today.” Day said of his team’s defense, which has allowed 5.5 points per game. “We practice so hard together, we watch a lot of film together and we are a family. We do what we need to do to win every week.”
Havre de Grace has four opponents remaining before the postseason, and holds a large points lead over Bo Manor and Perryville in the race for the 1A North Region’s top seed. Once again, the Warriors appear destined to meet Fort Hill (6-0) in the state championship game for a third-straight season.
“Obviously, you’re asking me after we just beat 5-0 Elkton, [and] I feel pretty good about that.” Eberhardt said of Friday’s victory. “I mean they [Elkton] are an amazing football team and they are going to win a lot more football games, so moving forward, I feel very confident with the guys that we have. Again, we talked about it being an experienced group. Most of these guys have played in two state championship games, so moving forward, the big thing for us is to stay healthy and keep guys being able to play the next week.”