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When Lancaster High School senior safety Shaq Elder looks at the Bruins’ 6-5 season, he has two views.
“I’m glad we have a winning season and made the playoffs,” said Elder. “On the other hand, and we can’t change this, but our record should be better.
“In some of the games we lost, we beat ourselves. We’re better than our record shows.”
All that is out the window now with the “second season.”
“In the playoffs, it’s a new season,” said LHS coach Bennie McMurray. “You win, you go on. You lose, you go home. Our goal is to be playing next week.”
Elder said the Bruins’ focus is on the No. 3 Goose Creek Gators, LHS’s first-round foe in the Class AAAA Division II playoffs. GCHS, 10-1, enters the playoffs as the Region VII-AAAA champion, 5-0 in league play.
“They’re a good team,” Elder said. “At the same time, I love a challenge.”
The Gators are a solid combination of size and speed, averaging 49.4 points a game.
Elder said the Bruins’ defense must come to play.
“This week, we’re going to have to dominate,” said Elder. “When we break down, we say, ‘hard work’ on three, but this week, it’s ‘dominate’ on three.
“We’ve got to hit and all of us have to bring our ‘A’ game.”
Elder added the Bruins’ defense has to deliver.
“The defense has to make plays,” he said. “We need 11 men to the football ball on every play.”
Elder, the LHS defensive captain, must have a solid game reflective of his senior campaign.
For the season, the 5-9, 170-pounder has four interceptions to go with 15 unassisted tackles, a tackle for loss, 13 first hits and 18 assists.
One of his picks resulted in a touchdown in LHS’s loss at Blythewood.
“Shaq’s an asset in the secondary,” said LHS secondary coach Kelvin Whitener. “He’s a leader and sets an example through hard work.
“He’s going to give it all he’s got and he will do what you want. Shaq’s coachable and that’s what you want.”
Elder wants to see the Bruins extend their season.
“I know we’re underdogs, but sometimes being an underdog isn’t all bad,” he said. “It gives you big motivation. If we come together and play as a team, it’s hard to be beat,” he said.
Elder, a three-year starter who moved to safety this season after two years at corner, said off the field preparation has helped him as much what he does in practice.
“This season, I’ve studied film and I know the receivers and what the offense is trying to do,” he said. “I try to get the receiver to run the route I want him to run instead of the route he wants to run.”
Elder entered the season, coming off ankle surgery in March.
He missed the annual LHS spring game, but was ready when the season opened.
“I had my teammates pushing me,” he said.
Whitener said Elder, after being bothered by the nagging injury last season, has picked up his play.
“This year, he’s gotten to the ball more and made plays,” Whitener said.
He hopes he makes his share tonight.
“In the series with Goose Creek, each team has won a game,” he said.
“We’re tied at 1-1. Our coaches say it comes down to who wants it the most now.
“I think we’re ready and we’ve had a good week of practice. Our coaches have us in a good defensive scheme. We just have to execute. Go do what we do.”