There are many smiles on the faces of Ellender High football players this week.
The Patriots opened the regular season with an impressive 48-8 nondistrict win over Thomas Jefferson at Hoss Memtsas Stadium in Harvey on Sept. 5.
It was the first time since 2013 that Ellender won its season opening football game.
“Ellender hasn’t started off 1-0 for a very long time,” Ellender senior defensive lineman Jaydon Lyons said. “It makes us feel better about ourselves. We worked very hard for this win.”
Ellender will play rival Terrebonne at 7 p.m. Friday at South Terrebonne Memorial Stadium in Bourg in another nondistrict game.
The Patriots will try to improve to 2-0 for the first time since 2013.
Ellender junior running back Tyshaun Hester, who had 11 carries for 165 yards and two touchdown runs to go with a kickoff return for a touchdown, said it felt great to start the year with a win.
“That was only a stepping stone for us,” Hester said. “I feel like it will give us a momentum boost for our confidence as we go into the season. We are feeling good about it.”
The Patriots had a tough time during its jamboree game against Thibodaux High on Aug. 30. The Tigers rolled to a 38-0 win over the Patriots.
Ellender head coach David McCormick said the Patriots wanted to quickly bounce back from their performance against Thibodaux.
“It’s great to start the year off 1-0. The kids are excited. We got to fix some things we needed to fix from the jamboree when we played against Thibodaux,” McCormick said. “Thomas Jefferson is a small school out of New Orleans. They didn’t quit, but we went in and we corrected a lot of the mistakes we made before and improved our game. We want to keep improving and getting better and getting ready for the next week. We won in all three phases of the game. It was a good win for us.”
McCormick said Ellender has a very young team that is made up of many freshmen and sophomores. They don’t have a lot of experience, but they have plenty of heart.
“We’ve got a lot of fresh faces out there on the team,” McCormick said. “Those guys are willing to work, and they do everything we are asking out of them. They are going to keep playing and they are not going to give up. When adversity comes, we’re going to fight through it. When you have a team that does that, good things are going to happen.”
Ellender senior receiver Nykee Johnson set the tone early against Thomas Jefferson by returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown.
“It felt great to come out there and get a win,” Johnson said. “We knew we had it on our minds to get the ‘W’. We came out there confident and ready to put it on them.”
The Patriots also got a 40-yard touchdown run from Daviante Scott, a 15-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Patrick Perna to Michael Crawford, a 25-yard touchdown run from O’Ryan James and kicker Man Pham went 4-for-4 on extra point attempts.
Ellender’s defense also got in on the fun. Junior running back/linebacker Kirk Chester had three sacks, while Lyons took down the Thomas Jefferson quarterback in the end zone for a safety.
Chester said he believes the Patriots will shock people this season.
“Everybody is counting us out,” Chester said. “We have a lot of athletes this year. Everybody has to do their part. We have to come out there and play every week.”
While there is plenty excitement around the halls of Ellender this week, Hester said they can’t get to satisfied yet.
“We still have things we have to put together,” Hester said. “We still have to come together as one. We still have more to work on. Football hasn’t been doing that good in the last couple of years, but we’re going to turn it around this year.”
Ellender will face a major challenge on Friday against Terrebonne, a team that went 11-2 overall and made the Class 5A quarterfinals last year. Ellender hasn’t beat Terrebonne in football since 2012.
The Patriots know that Terrebonne will be huge favorites to win on Friday but they are ready to show everyone what they could do. Many of the players on both teams grew up playing recreation and middle school football together.
“We’re underdogs,” Johnson said. “We have to come out with that chip on our shoulders every game to prove people wrong.”
“They think we we're not all that,” Lyons added. “We’re the underdogs, but we’re going to show them though. We’re going to play with some intensity.”
“Everybody has to do their part and come out ready to play,” Chester said.
The Tigers fell to Jesuit, 24-7, in their season opener last week, so Hester knows
“To be honest, I really can’t wait for Friday,” Hester said. “I feel like everybody is counting us out. Everybody is telling us that Terrebonne is about to shake back on us and blow us out from losing to Jesuit. I feel confident in my team and I feel confident in my brothers. I feel like we’re going to do good this Friday.”
McCormick said Ellender will have to play hard for four quarters on Friday against the Tigers.
“I told the kids we have to stay focused and we have to be disciplined,” McCormick said. “There were a few times against Thomas Jefferson where the kids got relaxed. We can’t be relaxed against Terrebonne. I think they have more weapons in their favor than what they had last year. When you are playing against somebody with that much speed, you have to be focused every play. You can’t take any plays off.”
ELLENDER’S RIBBON CUTTING CEREMONY
Friday’s game will mark the first time that Ellender hosts a football game on its new artificial turf surface at South Terrebonne Memorial Stadium in Bourg.
Ellender will celebrate the occasion with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 6:45 p.m. before the game.
“This is an historic moment,” McCormick said. “We finally get to play on our home turf. No other Ellender team has had the opportunity to do that. It’s going to be nice to have the ribbon ceremony right before the game.”