Ready to go

Calvert foot­ball pre­pares to face Elk­ton in 2A state semi­fi­nals

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By AJ MA­SON aj­ma­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @aj­ma­son301

Three weeks ago, the Calvert Cava­liers had al- ready earned their bid in the Class 2A South Re­gion play­offs but were dealt with a tough task at Lackey in Week 10 to end the reg­u­lar sea­son.

The Cava­liers stood tall to the task at hand, de­liv- er­ing a 17-14 road vic­tory over the Charg­ers to not only earn a home play­off game with the No. 2 seed. That was fol­lowed up with wins over Gwynn Park of Prince Ge­orge’s County and de­fend­ing 2A state cham­pion and county foe Patux­ent to earn the pro­gram’s first re­gional cham­pi­onship since 2002 and move to within one game of ad­vanc­ing to the state cham­pi­onship game at the Navy-Ma­rine Corps Me­mo­rial Sta­dium.

Rid­ing high off last Fri- day’s dra­matic 24-21 win in Lusby over top-seed Patux­ent in the 2A South fi­nal on Ja­cob Didra’s 25yard game-win­ning field goal in the clos­ing sec- onds, Calvert (11-1 over­all) will get back to ac­tion on Fri­day night in Prince Fred­er­ick as it will clash ver­sus the Elk­ton Golden Elks of Ce­cil County in the 2A state semi­fi­nals. Kick­off is set for 7 p.m.

The win­ner plays ei­ther the Walk­ersville Lions of Fred­er­ick County, a state fi­nal­ist from a year ago, or the Dun­bar Po­ets of Bal- tim­ore City for the state crown in An­napo­lis.

“It’s ob­vi­ously been a gain week to week and a tran­si­tion in de­vel­op­ing into the team we are now,” said Calvert head coach Rick Sneade on Tues­day, stand­ing in the Yea­ger Pav­il­ion on the Navy cam­pus for a press lun­cheon. “We are no longer that foot- ball team that says, ‘Hey this our first time on the big stage.’ We’ve played enough good ball and we be­long here. There are still things that we can im- prove on to get bet­ter at, but the kids are fo­cused and they were un­de­nied against Patux­ent last week. It came down to who­ever had the ball last and we pre­vailed.”

Calvert reached the state semi­fi­nals in 2002, but did not reach the play­offs again un­til 2015 where it was knocked out by Patux­ent 9-7 in the re­gion semi­fi­nals. The Cav- aliers won the 3A state ti­tle in 2000 under for­mer head coach Jerry Franks, which the school’s lone state crown.

“We are ex­tremely ex- cited of this op­por­tu­nity, and the ben­e­fit of get­ting a home game is huge,” Sneade said. “We are play­ing a day after thanks- giv­ing and this week it has been re­ally cold at prac­tice, but the team is get­ting ad­justed to it.”

Calvert, which is on a six-game win streak, is av­er­ag­ing 26.2 points a game this sea­son, while its de­fense that fea­tures a tra­di­tional eight-man box has al­lowed just 11.6 points per game with three shutouts and 33 take­aways.

The Cava­liers fea­ture a bal­anced rush­ing at­tack that con­trols the clock and has worn down op­pos­ing de­fenses. They are led by se­nior run­ning backs Shamar Gray (1,045 yards, 9 touch­downs), Levi Brick­ner (790 yards, 11 TDs) and se­nior quar­ter­back Jack Lan­ham (774 yards, 15 TDs).

On the de­fen­sive line, Calvert has had suc­cess stop­ping the run com- bined with a strong pass rush led by se­niors Ryan Far­rell and Tyler Smith, both com­bin­ing for 10 quar­ter­back sacks on the sea­son.

In the se­condary, se­niors Levi Buck and Cody Ma­son have a com­bined 11 of the team’s 18 in­ter­cep­tions on the sea­son.

“We have a core of se­niors that bring so many things to the ta­ble,” said Sneade, who has 27 se­niors on the ros­ter, nine of whom started and played as sopho­mores in 2014. “We have some great tal- ent in the back­field and our de­fense is phys­i­cal and we have speed and guys that can take it to the house.”

Elk­ton (11-1), which is on a 10-game win streak, has av­er­aged 32 points per game this sea­son, while al­low­ing 13.5 points to its op­po­nents.

Last sea­son, Elk­ton lost in the 2A East fi­nal to North Caro­line, but it got re­venge last week, claim- ing the re­gion crown with a 33-20 home win.

“I know that Calvert has played some re­ally good com­pe­ti­tion and beat a tough Patux­ent team week,” Elk­ton head coach Matt Feeney said. “They are a big phys­i­cal team that if they can es­tab­lish the run game, it can be a long night. On de­fense they have a great box and are fast, so it will be a great test for our guys.”

The Golden Elks fea- ture ju­nior run­ning back Raiquon Estep, who has ran for 2,280 yards with 31 touch­downs, and se­nior quar­ter­back Jack­son Ar­goe has thrown for 1,539 yards and 17 touch­downs this sea­son.

“Raiquon is a spe­cial player and set the school rush­ing record this sea­son and is pretty dy­namic,” Feeney said. “Our quar­ter­back can re­ally throw the ball and our O-line has opened holes. Our de­fense is the an­chor of our team.”

Sneade and his Cava­liers are ready to see what they are up against with a trip to the fi­nal game on the lne.

“Elk­ton is very ex­plo­sive and big up front and their quar­ter­back is a left-handed thrower and de­liv­ers the ball quickly,” he said. “Their run­ning back No. 6 [Estep] has good vi­sion and speed. They have a lot of play­mak­ers and have beat some tough teams. So we have our hands full on Fri­day night.”

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