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Two-way talents lead Elgin into showdown against Manor

By Danny Davis - American-Statesman Staff

After Elgin’s home football games, the local McDonald’s morphs into a hangout for the Wildcat players and their classmates, but Colin Snell’s preferred post-game destination is his home.

“After a game, I’m pretty exhausted. I usually want to go home and just sleep,” Snell said. “Getting out of the locker room, it even takes me a while. Getting my clothes off is even a struggle when I’m that tired.”

Snell has a reason to be dead tired after Elgin’s football games. He and his twin brother, Kyle, are two of the 10 Wildcats who have logged significant playing time both on offense and defense for Elgin’s undefeated team.

The Snell twins, juniors who both play as linebackers and wide receivers, are the only Wildcats who start on both offense and defense. Elgin coach Wade Griffin estimated Tuesday that the the twins are on the field for about 80 percent of the team’s snaps. They will be plenty busy Thursday night, when Elgin (5-0) faces fellow unbeaten Manor in a District 17-4A showdown at Wildcat Stadium.

Senior running back Da’Trean Simmons, who has rushed for 13 touchdowns, and wide receiver Zach Evans start on offense and make part-time appearances in Elgin’s secondary. Defensive backs Anthony Nash, DeKovin Vincent and Douglas Irby and defensive lineman Titus Livingston also see some snaps on offense.

Juniors Bruce Dodd and Jordan Smith don’t start for the Wildcats, but both players are involved in Elgin’s offensive and defensive rotations.

“It’s pretty good, because we each know how to play both sides of the ball real good,” Nash said. “It keeps us knowing what’s coming at us and what to expect from other teams.”

Elgin’s dependence on two-way players started as a necessity for Griffin, who suited up only 28 varsity players during his 2011 debut season at the school. Elgin has 45 players on its 2013 varsity roster, but Griffin said his team still needs to show plenty of versatility.

“When we get our program to where we want to really get it as far as the number of kids, and we feel like we’re not the smallest guy on the block anymore, eventually we’ll get away from it,” Griffin said. “But right now, we’re still the smallest school in the district … we’re going to play the best ones who are available.”

Griffin’s two-way plan was partially inspired by Steve Gideon, the former head coach at Leander. Gideon, who retired after the 2010 season, was 67-30 in eight years with the Lions while using such standouts as his son, Blake, Jonathon Henderson and Mike Kernon on both offense and defense.

“If (Leander) could do it, we can do it,” Griffin said. “They won a bunch of games at (Class) 5A doing the same thing.”

Elgin has gone 19-9 in Griffin’s three seasons there, and the Wildcats’ offense has averaged 46.6 points per game while the defense has allowed 6.8.

Elgin works all of its players on both sides of the football during its up-tempo practices, and conditioning drills also help keep the two-way players in shape. Their knowledge of their dual positions also benefits them when they take the field.

“Just on defense, I can look at the offense and I know how I would do something on offense,” Kyle Snell said. “I can tell what’s probably going to develop, just by how he’s lining up and trying to block me because that’s how I would do it.”

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