It wasn’t supposed to look this easy.
A virtual six-week cakewalk of a schedule to open the season had many questioning just how good the West Jefferson High School football team actually was heading into a critical clash with visiting Mechanicsburg Friday.
The Roughriders were expecting a stern test from the talented Indians (5-2), but West Jeff (7-0) dominated both sides of the ball as it cruised to an easier than expected 28-0 victory.
“I’m very proud of our kids,” West Jeff coach Shawn Buescher said. “I’m very proud of our staff, I thought they put together a heck of a game plan, our kids did an excellent job of executing it.
“But we didn’t just win this game this week. These kids have really played with a chip on their shoulders all year long. We prepared like that all summer, we prepared for games like this. This wasn’t just a one week thing.”
Just how dominant was West Jefferson? Its defense kept Mechanicsburg without a first down for nearly the entire half and allowed just four the entire game. The Indians ran 44 plays on the night and managed to accumulate just 83 yards of total offense.
The West Jeff defense forced two turnovers and kept Mechanicsburg on its half of the field for most of the game.
“We’ve been saying since the beginning of the year we’re a defensive football team,” Buescher said.” It’s what we’ve hung our hats on since we got here. Our defense has played at a pretty high level all year, we continue to grow in that area. If you want to put us in a box and run at us, I think we’re going to do alright.”
Neither team scored in the first quarter, but West Jefferson got things going in a major way in the second quarter.
West Jeff got rolling early in the second quarter when when Dillion scored the first of his three touchdowns on a 5-yard jet sweep behind the left side of the Roughriders offensive line. On the Rider’s next possession, Dillion took a pitch went left, saw a seam and turned it upfield, rushing 43 yards untouched for another touchdown. He wasn’t done in the half as he carved up the Mechanicsburg defense for a 79-yard scoring run.
He finished the game with 149 yards on 14 carries.
“Our offensive line did a great job,” Buescher said. “Wyatt is explosive. Our tempo, we stayed with it, we didn’t finish drives early, but if we can keep that tempo, keep our foot on the gas pedal and just go we can get things done. If we can play as fast as we can and execute, we’re going to be pretty good.”
Lance Lambert hooked up with Caleb Vanhook on a 19-yard pass play for the Roughriders only score of the second half. Lambert finished 11 of 23 for 137 yards through the air. Vanhook hauled in six passes for 101 yards and the touchdown. Ethan Higgins led the stout defense with 11 tackles.
The win puts West Jeff right where it wants to be, atop the OHC standings.
“We’ve put ourselves in a position where we can go and compete for a league title and that’s our goal,” Buescher said. “We can come back tomorrow and start working on taking another step in the right direction.”
West Jefferson will travel to Northeastern (1-5) Friday.
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616 ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.