ELKIN - The Battle of the Bridge highlights Starmount and Elkin’s schedule each year in the annual rivalry game.
But in recent memory, the much-hyped matchup has been lopsided, favoring the Rams. Starmount has captured the Battle of the Bridge trophy five years in a row and 10 of the last 13. Elkin hasn’t topped its cross-town rival since 2005.
While the last two games have been two of the biggest blowouts in series history - Starmount has outscored the Elks 114-6 the last two years - this year’s matchup has the makings of an intense and competitive rivalry game.
The Rams come into the meeting in a familiar position, atop the Mountain Valley Conference standings, unbeaten at 5-0 on the year and 3-0 in conference play. Elkin, coming out of its bye week, sits at 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the MVAC.
But a young core of Elks look poised to make a statement against the conference’s top dog.
Five reasons Elkin will win:
Young talent has the Elk fans stirring. Exciting young stars like Josh Strickland, Jamiles ‘Chunky’ Hayes and Daniel Brinegar have burst onto the scene and have made impact plays in the first four games of the season.
Solid veterans have offered stability in key positions on the field. Upperclassmen Sam Lane, Logan Newman, Chris Hudspeth, Mitchell Abbey, Seth Creed and Jamey Cranford anchor the Elks on offense and defense.
A resilient attitude was on full display the last time Elkin was on the field. Down 28-7 at halftime against a tough Ashe County team, the Elks battled back, scoring 27 second-half points. But a last-minute first down ended Elkin’s furious comeback, 41-34. The resiliency to fight back will pay dividends down the road for the Elks.
Head Coach Scott Wood has the Buckin’ Elks believing they can win. Coming off last season’s disastrous 1-9 campaign, Wood has changed the mindset around the team, and the results can already be seen. Elkin surpassed last season’s win total in Week Three.
A raucous home-field advantage will be key for the Elks. A rocking Grissom Stadium helped Elkin top East Wilkes in the home opener, 42-20 on Aug. 31, and the Elkin faithful will be out in full support against Starmount.
Five reasons Starmount will win:
Starmount’s rushing attack, led by returning All-MVAC performer Chaston Martin has powered the Rams this season. Will Simpson, Hunter Myers and Brian King take advantage of holes opened up by the attention Martin draws on every play.
Samuel Stone and Trey Money run head coach Scott Johnson’s offense to what may seem like near perfection. Stone and Money, both seniors, have a high football IQ and can make plays with their arms or legs when asked to.
A lights-out defense has carried the Rams this season. Starmount has allowed a mere 24 points in five games, including two shutouts, led by returning all-conference players Zach Worley and Michael Wood.
A strong senior class of 22 players is the core of Starmount’s team. Placing a senior at the majority of positions gives Johnson an experienced, reliable starter all over the field on both sides of the ball.
Experience is key for the Rams. Riding a 36-game conference win streak into the meeting, Starmount has built a winning tradition and has the experience in winning big games.
While on paper all signs point to a sixth-straight win for the Rams in the series, Johnson knows that nothing goes as expected.
“If you knew how the season would turn out, or if it turned out how you expected it, it wouldn’t be any fun,” he said before the season began.
That means the Battle of the Bridge should be pretty fun.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or email@example.com.