MERIDEN – At this time last year, Maloney senior quarterback Elliot Good was wearing a back brace and had some doubt that his short football career could possibly be over.
Good is a three-sport athlete. He started on the Maloney baseball team as a sophomore, plays basketball and when he was a freshman he decided he wanted to play football.
Through all the wear and tear on his body, Good injured his back the summer before his junior year.
A doctor couldn’t tell Good what was wrong when he visited in September. The doctor had him do physical therapy. His back still didn’t feel any better after a couple of months. Good went for a second opinion. The doctor took an X-ray. Good had a stress fracture in his back.
“I had some doubt through my injury, just trying to figure out when I was going to get healthy,” Good said. “A lot of physical therapy.”
Good missed his junior year of basketball, but was back starting at shortstop for the Spartans baseball team.
Even though he was able to return to baseball, a back injury is serious – especially for someone playing football – and the Maloney coaches weren’t sure if he would return.
“There was always that fear that he wasn’t going to,” Maloney coach Kevin Frederick said. “We planned for him, we planned without him a little bit.”
As a junior, Good never dressed to play during the season. But he was at every game with a headset on, involved in every conversation between Maloney coaches and then starting quarterback Larue Graham.
“I knew him not playing last year, but him being at all the games – doing our signals and just being involved in practice (would help Good) – I knew he had a passion to play football,” Frederick said. “That was always in the back of my mind, that if he’s healthy and comes back, he would be a good player.”
Just being around the team during the season and learning from the sidelines was enough for Good to decide to play his final season.
“I definitely wanted to see what I could do my senior year,” Good said.
“Just to be there and do what I did, it helped me from where I was. If I didn’t show up to anything, I’m not sure I would have played.”
With Graham graduating there was hole atop the Spartans depth chart at arguably the most important position.
“He has good football IQ, he has a good work ethic, throws a great ball, he’s just competitive,” Frederick said. “We were praying that he would come back and play, and we knew if he did he would have a great season, which he did.”
Good has not only played well, but he has rewritten the Spartans record book. The senior has thrown for 2,418 yards and 30 touchdowns, leading the Spartans to their first state championship appearance since 2006.
The senior quarterback has one more game, the Class L championship against defending champion Hand.
“Every year quarterback play is key for making it to the playoffs and winning a state championship, winning that big game,” Frederick said. “I think after the Windsor game, the first game of the season, we knew what kind of quarterback we were going to have in him. He rose to the occasion in the big spots. We’ve been riding him since game one and hoping to do it one more time.”
Good not only lead the Spartans to victory against Windsor – a team that beat the Spartans twice last season, including in the Class L quarterfinals – he led them to a two-touchdown comeback against Middletown in the quarterfinals by throwing three touchdowns. He also threw two more touchdowns in their 16-6 win over rivals Platt in the semifinals.
“We knew what type of player he is,” Frederick said. “So a lot of coaches aren’t surprised about it. He has a great football IQ, he knows coverages, he knows when they’re going to send pressure, when he needs to get rid of the football.
“We’re not too surprised. When you get a kid who is dedicated and works tremendously hard, you’re going to get a great player and that’s what we have in him.”
Heading into high school, Good had never played football.
During the summer heading into his freshman year he decided he wanted to play and that he was going to be a wide receiver.
“A couple of kids on the (summer baseball) team played football and the way they were hyping it up – being in the weight room, getting ready for it – I just wanted to be a part of it, so I tried it out,” Good said. “I thought I was going to be a wide receiver, coach Fred(rick) told me I was going to be a quarterback.”
At a passing league the junior varsity team didn’t have a quarterback. Good played, and from then on he was a quarterback.
Maloney wide receiver Victor Marquez has been friends with Good since they were in elementary school together and it’s not his throws that impress him the most.
“He keeps calm in the huddle, when we’re down or people think we’re out like in the Middletown game, he’s just calm,” Marquez said. “He gets the lineman together, gets the receivers together.
“For him to be as great as he is right now, is really something.”