Ready to go
Calvert football prepares to face Elkton in 2A state semifinals
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.”