Tigers, Colts set to renew rivalry tonight
ELKINS — A long-standing rivalry will renew tonight when Elkins and Philip Barbour meet under the lights of Wimer Stadium.
A packed house is expected as the teams, separated by just 23 miles and very familiar with each other, will give it their all in week two of the high school football season.
EHS (1-0) was able to get the season off to a fast start by defeating East Fairmont, 32-7, a week ago.
The Tigers wasted little time as they scored early and often against the Bees, getting out to a 32-0 lead before cruising to the win.
Thomas Talkington led the way with 157 yards rushing and two touchdowns. T.J. Guire and Daniel Romans also ran for scores, as the Elkins ground game was in high gear, rushing for 363 yards in the victory.
Head coach Evan Hott was content with his team’s offensive performance.
“I was pleased from a yardage standpoint, but we still need to clean up our blocking assignments. That’s been a focus this week in practice.”
Defensively, the Tigers were dominant, holding the Bees to just six first-half yards and forcing two turnovers.
One of which resulted in a 40-yard fumble return by Jeremiah Coger.
“Our tackling could have been better, but overall we played sound on defense,” Hott said. “We had a basic game plan, and our boys followed it. There wasn’t a situation we weren’t prepared for.”
Elkins now has Philip Barbour (0-1) focused in its sites, and just like last week, Hott said his team must be prepared.
“They show multiple sets on offense,” the second-year Tiger mentor said. “We’ll see three times the amount of formations we saw in week one. We have to be able to execute our responsibilities.
“Our defensive captains, Coger and Austin Storey, do a great job of knowing the game plan front and back if they understand it. Our entire defense is much better on Friday nights.”
While Hott was happy to get a season-opening win, that isn’t his focus. He’s all about preparation, and it’s something he drives home to his team.
“Being satisfied with a 1-0 start will lead you to be 1-1 in a hurry,” he said. “I’ve been on them all week about keeping their edge and focus. Philip Barbour’s kid’s play hard, so we need to be ready.”
While the Tigers were rolling, the Colts were struggling with poor execution and turnovers in their opening game — a 27-6 loss to Grafton.
Philip Barbour was able to move the ball, but could not overcome the miscues. The Colts did receive fine performances from running back Chase Collier, who ran for 101 yards, and veteran quarterback Damien Gonzales threw for 121 yards.
Second-year Philip Barbour coach Russ Collett said of the mistakes, “Clearly we need to execute better and not beat ourselves, we moved the ball well, we just have to finish the job.”
“Last season, our leadership was steady, but we lost a few of those kids, so we’re looking for kids to step up and lead. We’ve made a few changes this week and moved some kids around to see if we can’t get it (leadership) moving in a better direction.”
As far as his impression of the Tigers, “They’re aggressive, their backs run hard, and those young linemen come off the ball hard from what we’ve seen on film. Their offense is hard to stop, so we’re going to try and do some things to slow them down a bit.”
The game also has an added story line, as Collett, a former player and principal at Elkins High, returns to Wimer as an opponent of his alma mater.
When asked about the emotional ties, he said, “That will last about a second or two, then it will football as usual. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll be a fun game, and I’m proud to be from Elkins and it’s an honor to play at Wimer Stadium, but I’m committed to my kids here at Philip Barbour, and we’re going to do our best to get out of there with a win.”
For Hott, winning at home is vital, especially when it’s the first one.
“The home opener is important, you always want to win this one, and give your crowd a reason to come back.” he said, “We expect a large crowd, it’s a game both communities want to win and I expect it will be a great atmosphere.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.