District 8-5A New Orleans-area high school football preview: After going from winless to unbeaten, Ehret faces new challenges _lowres

Advocate file photo by SUSAN POAG-- John Ehret quarterback Caron Baham takes a snap against Brother Martin last season.

Ca’Ron Baham won’t be on the bus with his John Ehret teammates when they make the trip from Marrero to Destrehan on Friday night.

He doesn’t plan to be on the sideline either, like he was last week in Ehret’s win over East St. John.

Instead, the senior quarterback likely will be watching on TV or listening on the radio while at home recovering from season-ending ACL surgery Tuesday.

But don’t think for a minute that Baham’s absence means the Patriots are throwing in the towel,

The biggest game in the metro area — Destrehan is ranked No. 4 in The New Orleans Advocate’s Large School Super 10 and Ehret is No. 5 — should still be just as entertaining, even without their playmaker.

“We have some tough guys on this team, and I look forward to them carrying the team,” Baham said.

You could still hear the disappointment in Baham’s voice as he talked about the injury that occurred on the opening possession of the season against Riverside.

Baham and the coaches assumed it was just a bruise.

He got the news Saturday that it was much worse, a torn ACL, sidelining the offense’s leader for the rest of the season and the senior for the remainder of his prep career.

The news stunned his teammates.

Michael Divinity, one of the nation’s most sought-after linebackers, found out on Saturday via text message while on a recruiting visit to Texas A&M.

“I started crying right there on my visit,” Divinity said. “I couldn’t believe it. All we had talked about was playing this senior year together. To see he was gone in four plays? It was crazy.”

It’s still sinking in for Baham.

“I was shocked,” said Baham about finding the results of his MRI on Saturday. “It definitely hurt. I worked really hard this summer and was looking forward to trying to get to the state championship.”

He could have perhaps worn a knee brace and limped through the season but decided that wasn’t in his best interest.

“I’m a college commit with a bright future,” said Baham, who committed to Missouri this summer.

“It’s bigger than high school football. It hurts me not to go out and play, but my future is bright and (Ehret) coach (Corey) Lambert wasn’t going to let me mess up my future.”

So for Baham, he’ll be most remembered for what he did as a junior. He put up monster numbers as a junior, using his wheels and his arms to rack up more than 2,800 yards and 37 touchdowns.

“You’re talking about 3,000 yards of offense, but you’re also talking about a good kid who turned his life around and then all of a sudden bam, he can’t play his senior year,” Lambert said.

Simply put, Baham was the straw that stirred the Ehret drink on offense.

Now that duty is left up to senior Juwan Leonard, a converted running back who filled in admirably last week.

“It’s been easier than expected because I know the offense,” Leonard said. “Everybody was down and hurt Monday when we found out he was out. But Ca’ ron believes in us with or without him, so we have to be that way too.”

So far, so good.

Ehret won its first game, all but four plays without Baham, and then shut out East St. John in the second. Now they have a chance to start the season 3-0 for the first time since 2004.

Lambert says this week has been the team’s best week of practice.

“The guys have the attitude that their big brother is gone and they know they can’t wait around for Caron to put the game on his shoulders and go 80 or 90 yards,” Lambert said. “The kids were hurt Monday, but they know they have to step up.”

The Four Horsemen in Ehret’s backfield (Baham, Leonard, Byron James and Dejon Harris) have now been reduced to three.

But Baham says that’s plenty.

“If a team can tackle Scooter (Harris), Juwan and Byron for three quarters, they deserve to beat us,” Baham said.

Baham plans to return to the sideline next week and support his teammates.

He won’t be there physically Friday, but his teammates say he will definitely be on their minds when they play Destrehan (and the remainder of their schedule) for Ca’ ron.

“He isn’t just a teammate, he’s a brother, like family,” Divinity said. “So we have to play for him.”