For the second week in a row, it was a rainy, windy affair for the Elite Football League at Brother Gilbert Stadium in Malden. The evening doubleheader featured games between the MetroWest Maulers vs. Southwest Cobras and the Boston Junkyard Dogs vs. Northern Knights.
The inclement weather certainly affected the first game, as the pounding rain forced the Maulers and Cobras to run the ball early and often. The two traded stalled drives for much of the first half until the Maulers opened up the game with a 45-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline. At the half, the momentum favored the Maulers, whose one-score lead seemed almost insurmountable in the conditions.
However, on their first drive of the second half, the Cobras ground game came alive, rattling off a handful of chain-moving runs. But when in plus territory, costly penalties and sacks halted the Cobras drive, something Southwest Head Coach Jeremy Bandy knows the Cobras need to clean up before their next game.
“You can’t beat yourselves,” Bandy said. Referring to the plays where he felt the game was lost, “a holding call late in the game, we don’t align properly in a formation, and we blow a coverage for the one score of the game.”
The Maulers one score would be enough for the MetroWest team to notch their first win of the season over the Cobras in a gritty 7-0 contest. But Bandy knows that the first game is more of a rust-buster than an indication of where the team will be later this spring and into the summer as the playbooks open up and teammates get on the same page.
“You’re coaching a lot of different kids from a lot of different backgrounds coming together. It’s hard to prepare for a football game in four short weeks. We told the kids, ‘Hey, just play hard and have a great attitude.’ That’s all we care about,” Bandy stated.
Unlike the first game, the second game of the doubleheader featured more explosiveness from both offenses.
Surprisingly, despite having played limited snaps together, the Boston Junkyard Dogs displayed a varied offense throwing screens, digs, and running off-tackle to complicate the Knights defensive strategy. The Junkyard Dogs capped off their first drive with a touchdown, punching it into the end zone at the goal line.
Despite giving up the score, the momentum shifted for the Knights on a broken play. The Knights quarterback connected with his receiver on a Lamar Jackson-like jump pass, hitting his receiver in stride. But a few plays later, the Knights luck ran out. A pass intended for the end zone hung in the air for just too long and was intercepted by Boston at the goal line.
From there, the Junkyard Dogs run game kept rolling and never looked back. The Junkyard Dogs would score on three more occasions, including an electrifying touchdown run from 60 yards out. After the game, Head Coach Kevin Kelly complimented the work of the Junkyard Dogs in their 27-0 victory over the Knights.
“It was a good game. We did very well, and our running backs ran real hard,” Kelly said.
But due to the conditions, they could not open up the entirety of their playbook, something Kelly looks forward to doing next week.
The throwing game. We want to see that. We got some good receivers and quarterbacks,” Kelly said. Referencing the weather for next week’s game, Kelly joked, “We already looked at the long-range forecast. It’s supposed to be nice.”
After one week, the Junkyard Dogs and Maulers remain undefeated, with the Cobras and Knights looking to get into the win column. But with a long season ahead, each team will continue to have an opportunity to compete against one another and improve their overall game.