It was a devastating blow for John Ehret once the football team got the news before last week’s game against Destrehan that quarterback Caron Baham would miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL in his knee.
The Patriots (3-1, 1-0 in 8-5A) may have to go the rest of the season without their star quarterback, but they showed Friday their dominant defensive unit is still a force to be reckoned with.
Ehret’s defense held East Jefferson to 109 total yards on its way to a 33-0 shutout win on the road in each team’s District 8-5A opener at Joe Yenni Stadium.
“Our defense is going to carry this team; it’s always our strong point,” Ehret coach Corey Lambert said. “They’ve carried us for the last two years, and we’re just trying to adjust to winning without (Baham).”
The Patriots defense controlled the Warriors’ triple-option attack, holding EJ to minus-18 total yards in the first half and not allowing a first down until the third quarter.
The Warriors (1-3, 0-1) were able to get into Ehret territory only twice in the first three quarters, with one possession ended in a fumble recovery by linebacker Keyshawn Acker and the other resulted in a punt.
“We had a team meeting and really put everything on the table this week after losing (Baham),” Ehret linebacker Mike Divinity said. “We just said that we have to keep finishing strong and the defense has to step up.”
The Patriots, the No. 8 team in The New Orleans Advocate Super 10, took the opening possession 77 yards in nine plays, concluding in a 17-yard touchdown run by Byron James. The ensuing Warriors drive ended in Divinity blocking a punt that rolled into the end zone for a safety.
Ehret added a 33-yard Dustin Bodden field goal and a 41-yard touchdown catch by De’Jon Harris in the final three minutes of the second quarter to take an 11-0 halftime lead.
James finished with 10 carries for 97 yards and a touchdown. Ehret’s other starting running back, Juwan Leonard, had eight carries for 70 yards and a touchdown.
“We were quiet at practice that whole week, and we didn’t really have any intensity,” Divinity said about his team after hearing about Baham’s injury. “Now, we’ve accepted that (Baham) is done, and he’s getting ready for college, but we are still on a mission to make it to the Superdome.”
Ehret linebacker Anthony Hamilton scooped up an errant pitch on the Warriors’ first possession of the second half and returned it to the EJ 7-yard line. On the next play, quarterback Travis Mumphrey hit Travis Jordan on a slant for a 7-yard TD to increase the lead to 24-0.
The Patriots extended their lead to 31-0 when Juwan Leonard broke a 67-yard touchdown up the right sideline with 3:51 left in the third quarter.
Lambert gave Mumphrey his first start of the season at quarterback, and the freshman went 10 of 13 for 142 yards and two touchdowns.
“I thought our young quarterback did good today,” Lambert said. “We pulled him out of the game early and let him see what was going on, and things started slowing down for him.”