CINCINNATI — Luke Kandra was standing around the near-side end zone of The Pit during a mid-week morning last week when he recalled the day he became an Elder offensive lineman.
Kandra, now 6 feet 4 ½ and 300 pounds, tried out for tight end during the second day of camp during his freshman season in 2016. He had run a route and caught a pass when he heard a familiar voice screaming in his direction.
“Coach (Doug) Ramsey was like, ‘Kandra – you are never going to do this again. Go to the offensive line,’” Kandra said.
Kandra, a University of Louisville verbal commit, smiled at the memory. It was probably the funniest moment of camp that summer.
Elder football represents so much to those in the program year after year. For Kandra, it was enjoyable to reminisce.
“It’s hard to believe that it’s already been three or four years here,” Kandra said. “I remember that camp freshman year. It’s really unbelievable.”
As Elder prepares for its season opener Aug. 30 at Gahanna Lincoln, the Panthers are arguably the area’s top Division I team entering this season. The Panthers (8-5 in 2018) were the regional runner-up last season and return a strong nucleus offensively.
“I’ve been really pleased with how much we’ve been able to put in and guys doing things mentally,” Elder coach Doug Ramsey said. “You are out here in shorts and you can’t do a whole lot (until Aug. 1) so we try to make it a mental 10 days and our guys have done a really good job with that.”
Senior tight end Joe Royer, an Ohio State commit, can’t wait to put on the uniform for his senior season at The Pit, which will have new lights and a new scoreboard this season.
“It doesn’t get better than this anywhere,” Royer said. “It’s awesome. I love it. I am super excited for it. The best year.”
Senior offensive tackle Jakob James (Ohio State), the son of longtime Elder assistant coach Craig James, is ready to approach his senior season with a full-go mentality.
James remembers running around the field as a youngster, especially when he was a water boy for a few years in middle school. He remembers storied matchups including Elder’s upset of then-nationally No. 1 ranked Lakewood St. Edward in 2014.
“All of us out here – we grew up watching these guys. We grew up watching guys like Tommy (Kraemer), Peyton (Ramsey) and Tim O’Conner and Mark Miller,” Jakob James said. “Just growing up watching them and then finally being able to get out there and play – it’s just really something special.”
Craig James said it's neat to watch how much the seniors appreciate growing up with their classmates during Friday nights at The Pit.
"It's the greatest part about being at Elder," James said. "They've been around it. It has pretty much raised them. It's all they know."