Gryphons back on track after win
Thomas Jefferson put their struggles of the last two weeks behind them in a big way, routing Pine Lake Prep 61-7 Friday night.
“It was a fun night,” said TJCA head coach Jerry Cash. “We did exactly what we wanted to do which was win the game, not get anybody hurt, and get some younger kids some playing time. We did all three of those things, so it was a good night.”
The Gryphons got a big boost thanks to the return of WR/S Tyler Mitchell, who had not seen action since Sept. 27. The junior made an impact on both sides of the ball, scoring on a 37-yard pass from Mason Martin and a 36-yard interception return.
“We are a different team with Tyler on the field,” Cash said. “He didn’t play a lot Friday night, but he made some big things happen. He is such a weapon because teams can’t load the box or just focus on Efrim (Borders). He is also our best safety. He can take a play that looks like it’s going for 25 yards and hold it to a five yard gain. It’s good to have him back.”
Mitchell had plenty of help. TJCA used a platoon system at quarterback with Martin and Nick Mintz. The duo responded by accounting for 251 total yards and six touchdowns.
“It was good to get Nick some snaps and he played well,” Cash said. “He was able to score a couple touchdowns which will help build confidence and depth for the playoffs. Mason wasn’t playing badly or anything. He has just taken a lot of hard shots during the season. We just wanted to rest him a little by moving him to wide receiver. I think you will see the same thing (two quarterbacks) next week.
“I think the biggest key on offense was that we were able to get back to our screens and short passes that we had so much success with early in the year. We have the athletes to turn short passes into big gains and we took advantage of it.”
The defense also returned to its early season form, holding the Pride to just 209 yards and seven first downs.
“Pine Lake didn’t run the ball a whole lot,” Cash said. “It felt like they threw the ball all night long. I was proud of our defense because they played very well against an offense they had not seen all year. Now they’ll know what to expect if we play a pass happy team in the playoffs.”
But before TJCA can worry about the playoffs, they have to face Highland Tech for a second time to close out the regular season.
“The biggest thing that concerns me is that we will go into the game overconfident because we won the first time,” Cash said. “I think though, if we go in and play like we are capable of playing, we can win and build momentum for the playoffs.”