Scruggs ready to help lead Elkers football team

Bob Parana - Staff Writer

After getting his temperature taken and going through the COVID-19 symptom check administered by head coach Mark Heindl, Ridgway, Elkers seniors Austin Scruggs ran onto the practice field ready to lead his teammates as they prepare for the season opener Sept. 18 when they host the Kane Wolves.
The season was in doubt due to COVID. When the decision was finally made to proceed with fall sports Scruggs was relieved and ecstatic.
“I’m glad to have it back. It’s great. I was thrilled. I know everyone was happy. It was great when we heard we were going to play,” said Scruggs who will be counted on to plug the holes on the defensive line.
Seniors stepping up into leadership roles is a constant with the Elkers who have won four straight District 9 championships (Class A in 2016 and 2017 and Class AA in 2018 and 2019). Scruggs will be looking for a third straight medal and is happy to assume the role.
“This is the first time I’ve ever been a leader. I think I’m doing a good job so far. I’m making sure everyone is getting ready and doing my best to teach everyone. It’s been going good so far,” Scruggs said pointing out he learned great players. “I’ve had great leaders like Chase Pontious (2019 graduate) and Hoppy Haupright (Hayden, 2020 graduate). I’ve learned from them and I think that’s what makes me who I am today. They helped groom me from a sophomore to now,” he added.
Heindl’s varsity staff includes Rick Viglione, Mickey Delhunty, Jack Kifer, Tony Defilippi, Joe Roseto, Brad Nina, Brian Hinton, and Scott Salberg who are the envy of the district. Scruggs is thankful to have them lead the way. “Our coaches are the best. They treat us good and make sure we’re always ready. They are the best coaches I could ever ask for,” he said.
District championships have become the norm for the Elkers. It’s a goal that is set at the start of each season. Scruggs is optimistic about helping the team earn a fifth straight which would surprise some in the area. “I think it’s going to be the same as last year. Everyone doubts us and we’re going to work to come back on top again. It’s our mindset,” he said.
It’s been a gift covering the Elkers the past two seasons. It’s evident watching the team interact that it’s more than just football. “This is my family. I love every person on this team. There’s nothing more I could ask for. They’re the best,”. Scruggs said.
2020 Ridgway Elkers schedule: 2020 Ridgway Elkers football schedule: Sept. 18 – Kane, Sept. 25 – at Bradford, Oct. 2 – at St. Marys, Oct. 9 – Bradford, Oct. 16 – St. Marys, Oct. 23 – at Kane, Oct. 30 – at Otto-Eldred, Nov. 6 – Smethport.
Note – the final two games could be affected by District 9 playoff games.