Two Indians selected for annual Blue-Gold game
The Indian River High School football program will be sending two seniors to Newark this summer to participate in the 59th Annual Delaware Foundation Reaching Citizens Blue-Gold All-Star football game, to be played at the University of Delaware Tubby Raymond Field.
Quarterback/defensive end Spencer Murray and center/defensive tackle Joost Elling will represent the Indians in what will be the 40th year of the DFRC Blue-Gold Hand-in-Hand Program — a program that pairs the selected participants of the game with individuals with intellectual disabilities. And the two athletes understand just how much of an honor the selection is and what it means to be chosen for participation in the game.
Indians head football coach Ray Steele has told his former quarterback and center — the positions Murray and Elling will be playing, respectively — that being a player in the Blue-Gold game is the best honor a high school football athlete can receive in the state of Delaware.
Murray said he believes it will be a great experience for him to hang out with a citizen of intellectual disability and help ensure they have just as good a time at the game as the players do.
Elling’s brother, Kees, was selected for last year’s game and had a lot of fun, not just playing, but also helping out his buddy, Jake, throughout the week, noted Elling, and the younger Elling brother said he believes that type of connection would be great for him to experience.
Joost Elling offered tremendous praise for the nearly six-decade-old All-Star game.
“It’s huge. It’s an all-star game, but it’s not just great athletes — it’s great people, and I’m glad I was chosen as a person,” Elling said. “They think I’m a great person and athlete.”
The game on the field will feature the top high school senior football players in the state of Delaware and is a chance for Elling and Murray to prove they can play with the best, compete at a high level and conclude their decorated high school careers with a win.
The quarterback/center duo will have a distinct advantage in chemistry because of the familiarity the two already have with one another from playing on the same team. Elling pointed out that, for him, it’s awesome to have his quarterback for the game. He said there is a comfort level between Murray and himself that allows him to trust that his quarterback will make the right decision and make the right play.
The two will also be playing on the IRHS lacrosse team this spring and will have even more time to continue to build a bond as teammates before this summer’s Blue-Gold game.
Murray said he sees the game as a great opportunity to make up for how the 2013 football season ended for the Indians (in a 42-35 playoff loss) and go out there and have as much fun as he can, playing with guys he’s been playing with and against his whole life, before going off to college.
Elling is approaching the game as a way to make an impact on the field and wants to be a difference-maker during the game and set the pace for the offense, which will be a spread offense and feature the shotgun formation — Elling’s specialty in the snapping department. He said he understands that, in order to set that pace, he needs to prepare himself for the top-notch level of competition he will be against.
“It’s hard to face that. Usually, I’ll get little kids, or sometimes they’re not even face up. But I know in Blue-Gold they have a set defense, and I know they have a nose guard, so I’ll always have someone head-up on me, coming at me. That means I have to show I can handle that,” Elling said about the level of competition they’ll face.
Murray and Elling both made it clear that the biggest duty they have coming into the game is to stay in shape so that they will be able to perform at the level that earned them the honor, and to represent the Indians in a very positive manner.
The two will be working with one another after school at the conclusion of the lacrosse season to ensure that they are in good shape, the chemistry is still there and they’ve returned to the form each had in the fall.
Elling said that he hopes that by working hard they can show the younger players inheriting places on the Indians’ team that football is not just a year-round sport and that being an Indian is not just about being a good athlete: it’s a year-round commitment that calls for a player to be as good a person off the field as he is a player on the field.
Murray said he believes that, with the two being selected, they can show the younger players that anything is possible.
“It can happen to anybody. Anybody can get in. You don’t have to be the best athlete on the team. You just have to have good character and put it all out there and just play your best every play of the game and just go for it.”
Being selected as one of the participants in the DFRC All-Star Blue-Gold game is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a Delaware high school football player, and Murray and Elling both embrace that opportunity.