Elder excelled at all of his positions
A year ago, Jarel Elder was a bit unknown on the gridiron after playing behind All-LVC tailback Rob Dvoracek in 2011.
Last season, Elder broke out in a big way. The two-way standout was a major reason why the Parkland football team won a share of the Lehigh Valley Conference football title and District 11 championship.
"It was just a crazy year," Elder said. "Everyone was doubting us after those first two losses [to Delaware Valley and Easton]. Coming back like we did, it was because we're brothers and everyone played for each other to win. It was the best year of football I've played so far."
Elder was named to the LVC all-star team at three different positions, running back, defensive back and special-teams player.
He ran for 1,504 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also caught 15 passes for 240 yards and two scores as one of the leaders and focal points of the offense.
"I approached every game the same way," noted Elder. "I knew [assistant] coach McGorry was going to put us in a position to score a lot of points. I knew we would be fine because we had a lot of weapons. I had goals as a young kid to break records, but my main goal was to just get 1,000 yards. Nothing was really put onto my shoulders. We all had our duties so just go do it."
On defense side, the 5-foot-7, 160-pound Elder had just as big an impact.
He was never the biggest player on the field, but he was often among the smartest, fastest and most athletic. He made 96 tackles (72 solo), intercepted four passes, forced two fumbles (recovered one) and scored four defensive touchdowns.
"I know I'm small and I'm not going to outmuscle anybody," added Elder. "I just use my brain and my football smarts, and use the talents that God gave me to go out and just play. "Everything I do is for the love of the game and the passion to win, just like everybody else has."
When it came to choosing a college, Elder had several options. He had serious looks from a couple of Division II Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference teams. He decided West Chester was the place he wanted to spend his next four years.
"It came down to West Chester, Bloomsburg and Shippensburg," Elder stated. "I like Ship but their offensive coordinator left to take a job at Oklahoma State. I didn't really like the area at Bloomsburg. West Chester was just more of a family atmosphere when I stayed with the team."
Elder also ran track in the spring, competing mostly in the 4x4 relay. He used his time on the track to stay in shape for football.
The Parkland male athlete of the year feels gratitude to many for helping prepare him for his next step in life.
"Everybody here was just always positive about everything," Elder noted. "Teachers, coaches, everybody I met just gave me the initiative to be somebody. I loved it at Parkland. It's like a family because I felt that I could go to anybody and talk to them about anything."
Elder will report to West Chester on August 14 for preseason camp. The biology major has plans to become a doctor.