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EARLIER: Receiver’s catches big for whole team

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Elzy helps clear the way to spread the ball around

By Todd Martin

When the Rocket offense started clicking last week against North Hardin, it was no coincidence that Tavis Elzy was helping lead the charge.

Elzy, a 6-foot, 160-pound junior wide receiver, had nine catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns in last Friday’s victory after having just one catch for 9 yards in the season-opening loss to Bryan Station.

“We put him out on a island as the single wide receiver so many times, that it’s important we look for him early,” SCHS Coach Todd Shipley said. “If he gets single coverage, we feel like he can take advantage of that.”

Elzy was thrust into the position last year as a sophomore and showed flashes of what the Rockets need. Now, in his second full season as a starter, he says he is confident he can make all the plays .

“If B [quarterback Branden Cresap] sees me with one-on-one coverage, it’s an automatic go route,” he said. “I pretty much feel like I can take just about anybody if it’s one-on-one.”

And what happens when Elzy forces Seneca to slide a safety his way?

“That just helps free everybody else up,” he said. “When they slide a guy over to help with me, it opens up the rest of the field for other guys.”

Against Seneca tonight, the Rockets will likely look to target Elzy early and often again, although they can’t go to him much earlier than they did last week.

On the opening kickoff the Rockets tried an onsides kick, which normally goes to Elzy’s side of the field. The kick was there, but the bounce was just a little high.

“I just couldn’t get up high enough for it,” he said. “But I like starting the game off like that, trying to get a big play right away.”

Special teams will be a big focus for the Rockets. Shelby County has struggled in kick and punt coverage this season. Last week North Hardin picked up 50 yards on three punt returns and 124 yards on four kickoff returns.

“That [kickoff coverage] is a major concern,” Shipley said. “We’ve spent the majority of our special teams work on that this week. We can’t continue to give teams short fields to work with.”

The problem, the coach said, has been fundamentals and is fixable.

“It’s just simple fundamental, assignment football,” he said. “It’s not like we’re getting whipped out there. We just have to do the jobs we’re supposed to do. We’re going to look at a few new people out there and try to get this fixed.”

Coming out fast on the road at Seneca, whether it’s with an onsides kick or not, will be a key for Shelby County.

“They’re pretty good and fast,” Elzy said. “We just need to come out strong and get on top early. We did that against them in a summer passing tournament, and they started arguing with each other. They don’t keep their focus that well.”

After two slow starts, Elzy said he thinks the Rockets will be ready for the opening kickoff.

“Our chemistry has been coming together since the spring,” he said. “It’s taken a little while, but we’re all coming together, and I think we’re ready to show people what we’re all about.”