John Ehret has developed quite an appetite.
Convincing regular-season success over the past two years has not translated into the playoffs, where the Patriots have just one win in that span.
This year might just be the breakthrough.
In his fourth year, coach Corey Lambert has long suggested this is the team that will bring Ehret back to the Superdome for the first time in three decades. Four years of hard work has led to this moment when the No. 9 Patriots (8-2) host No. 24 East Ascension (5-5) at Hoss Memtsas in the postseason they said will define an era of Ehret football.
“They’re hungry,” Lambert said. “It’s their mantra. It’s their time to eat. They’ve got a bad taste in their mouth, and now they’re starving.
“This team has been 0-9 (in 2012). They’ve been through downs. They haven’t won a game. They did nothing but get better. They’ve been a part of the rebuilding process, from stretching to tutoring to study hall. It’s all carrying over into this year.”
Ehret advanced to the regional round of the 2013 playoffs but was bounced out in the first round a year ago against East St. John.
That moment hasn’t escaped the memory of players, particularly senior linebacker and quarterback De’Jon Harris, who said the team has adopted a different sort of mentality entering its third postseason together.
“Going into last year’s playoffs, we were focused on the seeding and the teams we were playing,” said Harris, an Arkansas commitment who has amassed 1,266 yards of total offense and 17 total touchdowns On defense he has 59 tackles, including 10 for loss, as well as four sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception.
“That loss to East St. John was embarrassing,” Harris said of 28-18 loss in the opening round of the 2014 playoffs. “We lost that game. We always say everyone’s 0-0 in the playoffs. We feel like we’ve been able to play with the top teams in the state, and our class can hold it down and go to the Dome.”
So what has given the Patriots confidence this postseason?
For one, it’s the new District 8-5A. Ehret split this year’s championship with Landry-Walker and Chalmette and earned a share of the title for a third consecutive year.
Ehret came up short against Landry-Walker on Oct. 9 but has responded with four consecutive wins, outscoring its opponents by an aggregate score of 170-28. That includes a lopsided 44-7 victory against Chalmette three weeks ago.
The Patriots are more battle-tested this go-round, which gives them a newfound confidence that they’re finally ready for playoff success.
That feeling of hunger has now evolved into starving.
“After losing to Landry-Walker, we had a nasty taste in our mouth,” said senior linebacker Robert Brown, an Army commitment who is two sacks shy from breaking Ehret’s single-season sack record of 21.
“I’m as hungry as I can be. I’m hungrier than ever and want to fight to make this team better. Our team overall is shooting for goals, and not just one, but multiple goals. Most are related to getting us to the state championship and having a chance to win it.”