Cardinals prepare for key grid league game

Tom Munds
Posted

Elizabeth Coach Chris Cline told his players after they rolled to a 54-6 road Oct. 21 win over rival Englewood to enjoy the victory over the weekend but to be ready to begin preparations on Monday for what is the biggest game so far this season.

“We are going up against Fort Morgan on Oct. 19 in the game that probably will determine the league champion” the coach said.

“It is homecoming and winning the homecoming game is also important. So, if you want this football season to mean something, be ready to practice hard, ignore all the homecoming activities and focus on playing our A game and beating Fort Morgan.”

The kickoff for the battle will be at 7 p.m. and the game will be played in the Elizabeth High School Stadium. The game will also include Cardinal homecoming events. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students with school identification.

On paper the teams are evenly matched. Fort Morgan is 5-2 overall and 2-0 in league, both teams have rolled to victory against 3A Metro League East league and come into the Oct. 19 game with four-game winning streaks

Fort Morgan will pass the football but their main offensive weapon is running the ball. In the first five games of the season, the Mustangs have averaged 48 yards a game passing while they have gained an average of 246 yards on the ground. Leading rushers so far this season for Fort Morgan are Nate Alexander with 451 yards and Jared Bohm with 423 yards

The Cardinals present a more balanced attack in the first five games of the season, averaging 136 yards passing and 161 yards rushing per game.

Defenses are tested because there are three players who are atop the rushing leader list, Jordan Buckham with 52 carries for 302 yards, Chasyn Nicholas with 40 carries for 321 yards and quarterback Brody Oliver with 41 carries for 216 yards. Oliver also had completed 44 of 115 passes for 127 yards and four

touchdowns.

Last week, Elizabeth traveled to Englewood and rolled to victory over the Pirates 51-6.

Englewood took the opening kickoff and, two plays later, scored on a79 yard run from scrimmage which proved to be their only points of the night.

The Cardinals apparently responded less than three minutes later with its own long run by Nicholas.

But that scored was nullified by a penalty so, a couple plays later, he did it again, scoring the first of his four touchdowns on the night.

The extra point try failed but late in the first quarter, Nicholas scored on a two-yard run and Oliver passed to Haden Freisner for the two-point conversion to extend the lead to 14-6.

The Cardinals threw touchdown passes, ran, passed and kicked for extra points and, in the third quarter, Freisner intercepted a Pirate pass and ran it back for a pick-six.

At that point, the score was 42-6 so quite a few Elizabeth reserves saw playing time. There was another Cardinal touchdown and a field goal to make the final score 51-6.

Nicholas was the rushing leader with 14 carries for 170 yards and four touchdowns and teammate Ryan Schaefer carried nine times for 37 yards. Quarterback Oliver completed eight passes for 107 yards and also scored one rushing touchdown.

“This is a big win for us because Englewood and Elizabeth have developed a good rivalry that at least goes back to that 2000 overtime game,” Coach Cline said after the game.

“We have a pretty good team this year. We are young and growing. Our team has a lot of weapons and we try to use all of them.”

He said the Cardinal defense can be tough but sometimes make silly mistakes like not wrapping up tackles like they did against Englewood. But, other times, they are strong and can hold good teams in check.

The defense was ready Oct. 12 as they limited the Pirates to 46 yards of offense and just six first downs

“We want to win the league and, to do that, we have to beat Fort Morgan,” the coach said.

“We match up very well with them. They do have a little size advantage but I think it will be a heck of a game.”

Nicholas had a good game against Englewood. The statistics weren’t in but he rushed for at least 200 yards, caught a couple passes and he scored four touchdowns.

“It was a pretty good night for me and for our team. I made good runs because our linemen had a great push up front and created holes for our ground game,” the junior said.

“When we ran wide, our ends and receivers sealed off the defenders to clear the way so we could pick up good yardage.”

He said scoring four touchdowns felt good but not as good as getting this big win to help us get ready for Fort

Morgan.

“This win definitely gets our confidence up as we prepare for Fort Morgan,” Nicholas said.

“Our goal for next week is to come out, play smash-mouth football and go get the win.”