By Daniel Wood
It was history in the making Friday night at Jefferson Memorial Stadium as the Jefferson High School football team (11-1) ran through the Wildcats of Westminster High School (5-7) by a score of 35-7.
Not only are the Dragons moving onto the quarterfinals for the first time since 1977 but they will also play hosting to the Purple Hurricanes of Fitzgerald High School who are 10-2 on the year.
The Dragons rode the feet of quarterback Bryant Shirreffs and a stingy defense to advance to the next round. Shirreffs rushed for 243 yards and three touchdowns for the game. He also added 80 passing yards and one touchdown pass. In total the Dragon offense rushed for 397 yards and out gained the Wildcats 474-179.
The game definitely didn’t start the way Jefferson imagined in which they faced a 7-0 deficit less than two minutes into the game. On the first play from scrimmage, Jefferson quarterback Bryant Shirreffs found his receiver on a slant pass for a gain of 12 yards. However a Wildcat defender stripped the ball out and Harrison Fiveash picked up the loose ball and returned it to the Dragon 22-yard line. Four plays later, Cameron Seward bullied his way into the end zone, giving the Wildcats the early lead.
Jefferson responded with a 13-play drive to tie the game up with 3:44 left in the first quarter. The biggest play of the drive, and maybe the game, was on 4th-and-goal from the Wildcat 1-yard line.
After the Dragons defense forced a punt, the offense put together a 10-play drive capped by a 12-yard touchdown pass from Shirreffs to Dalton Hill. Leading by just seven points, Shirreffs broke off for a 71-yard run, taking the ball down to the 4-yard line. On that play Shirreffs took the snap from the shotgun, rolled to his right, and found nothing but open field. Sammy Williams scored two plays later to make it a two-touchdown advantage for the Dragons.
The second half saw Shirreffs add to his outstanding performance. Two of his three carries went for scores, seemingly on the same play and from the same formation. Not only did he pick up great blocks from his offensive line but he also received several key blocks from his receivers and backs.
Westminster was held to only 67 rushing yards while quarterback Jake Forte only had 8 rushing yards or the game. He did add 112 passing yards to eight different receivers. All night long Dragon defenders Wesley Simonton, Kody McDonald, Tay Stevens, and Micah Carpenter stuffed of Wildcat offense. The Dragons will return to action next week against Fitzgerald in the semi-finals. A time has not been announced yet.