Frankly, it may not have mattered which team John Ehret faced Friday night — the Patriots were playing with a chip on their shoulder.
The 39th meeting between these storied West Bank programs took a back seat to Ehret’s dominant performance in all three phases of the game.
Ehret found the end zone on its first four possessions and nearly turned in a defensive shutout in a 39-8 District 8-5A victory over West Jefferson at Hoss Memtsas Stadium.
The Patriots (5-2, 3-1) suffered their first district loss in two years last week, which snapped a 12-game district win streak. However, the team extended its win streak against West Jeff to three while moving ahead 20-19 in the series that dates to 1977.
It’s fair to say there was added motivation.
“We put a lot on our defense,” said senior De’Jon Harris, an Arkansas commitment. “We go out there and can stop people, but last week we lost on the defensive side of the ball and we were motivated. It felt good (to win against West Jeff), but I was kind of hoping for a shutout.”
“The loss to Landry-Walker (last week) was a hard loss,” senior linebacker Michael Divinity, an LSU commitment, said. “We weren’t disciplined. We worked on that and we (nearly) had a shutout. I feel good going into next week.”
Ehret’s suffocating defense stole the show throughout the contest.
The Buccaneers (3-4, 2-2) were held to 34 yards of total offense and didn’t put a dent in the scoreboard until quarterback Coley Ransaw raced for a 4-yard score with 19 seconds remaining in the game.
Linebackers Robert Green, an Army commitment, and Divinity combined for 9.5 sacks. Green, who had seven, increased his season total to 17, six shy of Ehret’s school record.
“Me and Rob have the talent for sacks,” Divinity said. “We talk about it every day. We push each other to get more. I have fun playing on the side of Rob.”
Not to be outdone, the Ehret offense scored on five of its six first-half possessions, largely taking advantage of a momentous rushing attack.
Harris, normally a linebacker, drew the start at quarterback and piled up 123 yards and two touchdowns on 16 tries. Running back Juwan Leonard added 77 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, and Central Florida commitment Jarius Wallace rushed for touchdowns of 22 and 6 yards in the opening quarterback.
Overall, Ehret gained 328 yards of offense, 270 of which came on the ground.
“We found out that Byron James is out with an ACL injury, so that’s 4,000 yards of offense lost,” said Harris, also referring to the injury of quarterback Ca’Ron Baham.
“So it’s now or never to make this run toward the playoffs and the Dome.”