GRAPELAND – In their ways, the Elkhart Elks and Grapeland Sandies are focused on a bigger picture than the four-game slate they play before district begins.
Elkhart coach Luke Goode had his first chance at seeing his team in live-action for four quarters in their week one game against the Buffalo Bison. The Elks lost 41-0 but found some positives on both sides of the ball to take with them to game two.
Chase Walker stood out for the Elks in their “H-back” position, while Camden Sellers highlighted the Elks defensive line.
Elkhart is starting a handful of sophomores this year who are coming off of their time getting accustomed to the speed of varsity football. The Elks defense was solid when it came to third-down defense, but struggled to get Buffalo off the field as they were 80% on fourth-down attempts.
Elkhart also had 10 penalties on the night, which is something Goode hopes to correct against the Sandies this week.
“There's nothing that's going to replicate game speed other than the game itself,” Goode said. “Just getting our kids comfortable with the speed of the game was a big part for us.”
The Sandies are once again home following their 32-19 win over the Shelbyville Dragons. They were originally slated to be at Dragon Stadium until changes forced them to host their season opener.
Quarterback BJ Lamb's threw for two touchdowns, but where he shined was in his ability to create plays with his feet. He rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns on 11 attempts. Grapeland's lead running back Cadarian Wiley matched his attempts and added 59 yards.
Quick Hits: Though Grapeland came away with the win Friday, the Dragons were successful at running the ball – something coach Goode and his Elks offense want to do. Shelbyville duo Adaybran Davis and JaKory Standley combined for 281 yards on 36 attempts. Davis averaged 8.4 yards a pop, while Standley was good for 7.4 yards a carry.
Buffalo was able to attack the Elks defense with multiple different runners. Quarterback Brett Hoffman was the Bison's second-leading rusher with 46 yards but did the majority of his damage through the air with 153 yards and a touchdown. Grapeland's BJ Lamb offers the same ability to hurt the Elks through the air and on the ground, though they were able to force two interceptions in week one.
Since Elkhart made the jump to 3A football in 2014, their rivalry with Grapeland has been on ice. Elkhart won the last four matchups against the Sandies from 2010-13 (26-6, 45-26, 49-2, 49-7) with Grapeland's last win coming in 2009.
Ironically, in their last meetup, Elkhart was coming off a 27-7 loss, while Grapeland had just edged out a 35-28 win over Lovelady.
Kickoff is set for Friday, 7:30 p.m., at Grapeland Sandies Stadium, in Grapeland.