An Elmira team hasn’t competed in the state football playoffs for the past 11 years.
Elmira Free Academy won the Section 4 Class A championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
The 2013 season has just gotten under way, but the Elmira Express has the look of a dangerous postseason candidate. Elmira has sprinted out to a 2-0 start, drubbing Oneonta 58-7 in the opener and holding off Union-Endicott 38-33 last weekend.
The Express will try to improve to 3-0 starting at 7 p.m. Saturday when they play Johnson City at Binghamton Alumni Stadium.
The double-pronged running threat of Jerry McPeak and Eli Thomas has helped the Express ring up the points. Elmira has rushed for 740 yards in its two victories.
McPeak, an Ernie Davis Award winner, has 328 yards and five touchdowns on 31 carries; Thomas 257 yards and four TDs on 19 attempts. Thomas has also returned a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns.
“If you’re looking to contend, you have to be able to run the ball and stop the run,” Express coach Jim McCauley said.
Elmira’s offensive line consists of Tony Penn, Levi Stevenson, James Mechalke, CJ Nichols and Franke Piper. All are seniors except for Piper, who’s a junior.
McCauley also mentioned senior tight ends Darius Ham and Kyrel Gunita for getting movement in run blocking.
On defense, McCauley said his three-man front of Randy Banks, Anton Brown and Luke Proudfoot has done its job of tying up opposing blockers.
And linebackers Josh Townsend, Allaah Sessions and Dom Clark “have been outstanding,” McCauley added.
Johnson City (1-1) rebounded from a 34-7 season-opening loss to Binghamton to defeat Susquehanna Valley 21-13.
Quarterback Rick Balles has been the Wildcats’ top rusher with 196 yards on 36 attempts for two touchdowns. He’s also 10-for-24 passing for 154 yards.
“Johnson City has a great team. They have a quarterback who can do it all, a good receiver in No. 81 (Quinton Johnson), a good fullback and a good tailback,” McCauley said. “This will be a tough game.”
Elmira is in Class AA, Division I; Johnson City in Class B, Division II.
In other games this weekend:
Notre Dame (1-1) at Spencer-Van Etten (2-0): The Crusaders got a late start after forfeiting the opener for lack of players. But they were able to down Trumansburg 40-32 last Friday.
“I think we did a lot of good things,” Notre Dame coach Mike D’Aloisio said. “We made mistakes, which I expected us to do being in our first organized game for the year. But I felt people stepped up when we needed them to step up, especially seniors on the squad.”
D’Aloisio noted that senior quarterback Hunter Thomas provided more than his 10-for-16 passing for 164 yards and two TDs.
“Hunter did an outstanding job directing our offense because we had some kids out there who had to go in and play and weren’t familiar with the position we put them in,” D’Aloisio said. “Hunter not only called the plays, but he read the play and was directing people what to do, all in a matter of 25 seconds.”
Spencer-Van Etten beat Trumansburg 28-26 before it downed Candor 38-22.
Last year, Notre Dame edged S-VE 14-6. The Crusaders and Panthers are both in Class D, Division VII.
Ithaca (0-2) at Corning (0-2): When the two teams met a year ago at Ithaca, Corning came away a 38-12 winner.
Steve Crouch leads the Hawks with 208 yards rushing on 31 carries.
But Corning has lost 10 fumbles already this season.
Ithaca and Corning are Division I teams, with Ithaca in Class AA and Corning in Class A.
Odessa-Montour (0-2) at Groton (2-0): Groton took last year’s matchup 51-14.
O-M has been outscored 79-8 this season.
Both teams are in Class D, Division VII.
Moravia (1-1) at Watkins Glen (1-1): This is another Class D, Division VII contest.
In its 28-22 win over Deposit-Hancock last Friday, Watkins Glen had just two penalties for 10 yards compared with 10 for 125 for Deposit-Hancock.
Waverly (1-1) at Edison (1-1): This marks the first Class C, Division IV game for the two teams.
Tyler Troccia has run for 163 yards on 21 carries for the Spartans.
The Wolverines have been effective passing with Peyton Miller, who is 29-for-43 for 401 yards and four touchdowns.
Dylan Perry has caught 12 of those throws for 224 yards and four TDs.
Binghamton (1-1) at Horseheads (1-1): Binghamton has dominated the last two meetings, winning 47-0 in 2012 and 48-0 in 2011.
The Blue Raiders limited Ithaca to 2 yards rushing in their 22-6 victory last Friday.
Horseheads has relied on a balanced ground attack with Evan Stiles (26-151-2) and Eric White (18-144-2).