The Ell-Saline Cardinals wasted no time getting the 2019 high school football season off to a blazing start Friday night on the road in Heart of America League action, cruising past the Sterling Black Bears for a 41-0 victory.
On the second play from scrimmage, Ell-Saline (1-0) junior Eli Hopkins recovered a Sterling (0-1) fumble at the Black Bears 9-yard line. Three plays later, junior quarterback T.J. Morrical plowed into the end zone from a yard out to give the Cardinals a 7-0 lead.
Following a three-and-out from Sterling, the Cardinals marched 40 yards on ten plays, with senior tailback Luke Parks finishing off the drive with a 2-yard touchdown plunge to put Ell-Saline up 14-0.
Ell-Saline went up 21-0 with 8:53 to play in the second quarter as Morrical connected with senior slot back Sawyer Kramer on a 14-yard touchdown pass.
In the second half, the Cardinals picked up right where they left off at halftime. On the second play of the third quarter, Parks broke multiple tackles to burst free for a 58-yard touchdown run to put Ell-Saline ahead 28-0. On the following series, Morrical flew past three would-be Sterling tacklers for a 47-yard rushing score. After a missed extra point, the Cardinals led it 34-0.
With 3:50 remaining in the contest, Parks added his third touchdown run, this time from six yards out to give Ell-Saline their final score of the night.
The Cardinals finished the game with 351 total yards, 315 of those coming from the ground attack. Parks led the way, racking up 159 rushing yards on 21 carries, while Morrical gave Ell-Saline a second 100-yard rushing effort on the evening, finishing with 15 carries for 103 yards.
Through the air, Morrical went 3-for-9 for 21 yards and a score. Kramer led all Cardinals with two receptions for 21 yards.
Ell-Saline forced four Sterling fumbles on the night, with Hopkins recovering three and sophomore Kayden Goddard recovering one.
The Cardinals will be back in action next Friday night in Heart of America League play, facing off with the Remington Broncos.