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Elon regular-season football finale is today; playoff berth could be at stake

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By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

It seems like Elon always has another football game just around that corner.

That’s because that’s the way it has shaken out for the Phoenix this year.

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Elon is one of a handful of teams in all of college football to already have played 10 games.

“It hasn’t been easy,” coach Tony Trisciani said. “Not having a bye week until your (regular season) is done is challenging.”

Elon (7-3 overall, 5-2 Colonial Athletic Association) goes into Saturday afternoon’s regular-season finale at Hampton (4-5, 1-5) with a chance to make a case for inclusion in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

An open date for the Phoenix comes on the last weekend of the FCS regular season. In the meantime, Elon has kept doing its thing.

“We’ve held up pretty good,” senior center Mike Purcell said. “It has prepared us for a great opportunity week-in and week-out.”

With mid-November approaching, the Phoenix made it to this juncture in good shape because of plotting out a strategy since the offseason.

“We had to do a good job as a staff and it started really in preseason,” Trisciani said.

“Knowing that we’re not going to have a bye week and taking care of their bodies, taking care of their mental health. Taking care of our staff even without that week to charge the batteries.”

It has been important for the Phoenix to stay in the same routine with a break.

“This beefy schedule has set us up pretty well,” Purcell said.

No. 18 Elon has won its past two games, completing a 5-0 mark at Rhodes Stadium with last week’s 27-3 victory against Albany.

In that game, Phoenix used several personnel combinations, giving younger players in the program a chance to get on the field. That was a convenience for a team that could be taxed physically.

“We have to play 11 games in hopes to compete for a conference championship and make the FCS playoffs,” Trisciani said. “To get to the point now where it has become a one-game season, we still have to keep that focus small.”

The first-ever meeting with Hampton marks a huge opportunity for the Phoenix. A victory would almost ensure an FCS playoff bid – and it would keep the team in contention for a CAA championship.

“To get to this point now where the games you remember are played in November,” Trisciani said. “It just makes this game that much bigger for us. We’re excited where we are right now.”

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