WILMINGTON – Forcing a running clock for the entire second half is one way to beat the heat.
St. Elizabeth looked in mid-season form, dominating McKean 49-0 in Thursday’s 7th Annual DFRC Kickoff Classic at Baynard Stadium.
On a hot, muggy evening, the Vikings pulled away during an explosive second quarter, racking up 28 points. Junior running back Chris Cropper, who sat out the opening 12 minutes, led the charge with three of his four rushing touchdowns.
“We wanted to give our younger players a chance to prove themselves,” St. Elizabeth head coach Joseph Aviola said. “We decided to sit Chris and he agreed with that. We’ve worked hard to build this program back up over the last three or four years.”
Cropper was nearly impossible to bring down, repeatedly shaking defenders off his 6-foot-3 frame. He covered a game-best 107 yards on just six carries.
“Just run hard, get behind my blockers and run down field,” said Cropper matter-of-factly about his success.
The Vikings exploited holes in the Highlander defense all night, particularly on the outside. They led in total yards 352-16. The Viking backs never had to wait long for an open route due to a tough offensive line led by senior Patrick “Mickey” Henry, who has committed to the University of Delaware.
“It was just everyone working together,” he said. “We have some people down but everyone stepped up and we were able to move people around.”
McKean (0-1) struggled to get anything going after an impressive first series fizzled out with a turnover of downs. The Highlanders relied on their running game, but Loma Thomas led the weathered crew with 32 yards on eight carries.
On the first play of the second half, Cropper took off down the left sideline for a 52-yard sprint to the house to make it 42-0. Vikings junior quarterback Casey Rock threw just two passes all game, but he completed them both for 93 yards and a touchdown.
Both teams look to build from 4-6 regular seasons last year. St. Elizabeth hopes to continue its winning ways with a long trip to Laurel ahead next week.
Some glaring issues in a nearly perfect game were the nine penalties the Vikings (1-0) committed, one of which resulted in the ejection of a player.
“We’ve got to get them down, but we’re a team that’s got each other’s back 100 percent of the time,” Henry said.