ELKTON — With members of Elkton’s Class 1A state championship team in the audience, Elkton improved to 2-0 on the season as they locked horns with a fierce Edgewood team.
After winning the cointoss, Elkton opened the game by recovering an onside kickoff. Though the Elks first drive didn’t end with put points on the board, the momentum they built proved crucial in the back-and-forth battle between the two squads.
After an early pass was nearly picked off by the Rams’ defense, both teams seemed to mutually agree to spend much of the first half on the ground, relying on their quarterbacks and running backs for the majority of their yardage.
Edgewood was the first to reach the endzone, as their running game carried them down the field to go up 8-0 after a Ram burst through a pile-up for a two-point conversion.
Elkton responded in the second quarter, rushing through Edgewood’s defense and into the endzone. Though the Elks’ own two-point attempt was denied, the Elks didn’t slow down.
“Edgewood is always a big, fast, physical team and they gave us a battle until the very end,” said Elkton Head Coach Matt Feeney. “We were short handed again this week but our guys stuck together, bent a little but never broke, and that’s why we were able to get out with a win.”
Elkton’s Jayden Triplett was a dual threat on the offensive side of the ball. The senior quarterback completed 9 passes on 23 attempts, throwing a single interception and a touchdown. Running, Triplett recorded 10 carries for 36 yards and another touchdown.
The Golden Elks also saw extensive production from Ian Brown, Kyrie Tyson and Brian Pearson. Brown, a senior running back, had 12 touches for 65 yards and a rushing TD. Senior wide receiver Tyson made 4 catches for 59 yards and a touchdown. Junior running back Pearson made 7 carries for 44 yards.
Elkton’s defense withstood Edgewood’s onslaught, holding the Rams to 16 points. Playing both sides of the ball, #6 Pearson made 11 tackles as well as both forcing and recovering a fumble while #2 Brown tackled a Ram 13 times. Senior Douglas McGonigle and junior Jaden Hicks also tallied 13 tackles.
At halftime, members of Elkton’s 2000-2001 football team were honored for the 20 year anniversary of their undefeated season and Class 1A State Championship. Before the game, the former players and their coach, Bill Russell, gathered in the stadium parking lot for a tailgate.
“It’s like yesterday,” said Russell, when asked what it was like to be back with his team. “It’s like we just won.”
Russell’s former players, many of whom brought their families with them to the game, agreed.
“We feel old, but it feels like it was yesterday,” laughed Matt Barke, a member of the championship squad.
After cooking out and playing some cornhole, the alumni gathered with their coach to watch the game. Russell reflected on his experience as a coach at Elkton and, in the last few years, as a spectator of the sport.
“It’s just neat,” said Russell. “Not everybody gets to experience life like coaches do.”
Russell only stayed for the first half of the Elkton game, as he and his wife departed to watch their grandson play at Rising Sun’s home opener – where Russell’s son and son-in-law are also coaches.
Feeney, who played under Russell during his time as a Golden Elk, noted that he was sad that his team couldn’t witness the halftime recognition ceremony – due to their halftime locker room strategy meeting.
“[Coach Russell]has had more of an impact on me as a coach than he may realize,” Feeney said. “As he gave me my first opportunity to coach at the high school level, but also from the standpoint of what level of dedication you need to embody when you take on this role.”
As the former champions grouped up to enter the stadium, they reflected on their time at Elkton and what the school and football program have meant to them.
“We’re proud of where we came from,” said Joe Montras. “This place made us who we are.”