Jamesville-DeWitt junior tailback Rasheed Baker (44) battles for a few more yards past Nottingham's Marty Clanton in Friday night's game. Baker's 170 yards on 33 carries, plus a pair of touchdowns, keyed the Red Rams' 25-6 victory over the Bulldogs in a first-place Class A American division showdown.
DeWitt Eric Ormond put it quite well as his Jamesville-DeWitt football players ran over to the large student section in the bleachers to celebrate Friday night's 25-6 victory over Nottingham.
"We're not building anymore," the Red Rams' head coach said. "The building part is done. We've had our growing pains, but now our players expect to be the best on a weekly basis."
What Ormond was referring to, of course, was the long, slow, difficult process of taking a struggling football program and propelling it to the top of the Class A American division ranks.
That part of the process officially ended on this cold, misty and raw evening at J-D, where the Red Rams took over on the defensive end late in the first half and never let go, forcing the Bulldogs into five turnovers, three of them leading to 19 pivotal points.
"I couldn't be prouder of our defense," said Ormond. "It was A-plus, across the board."
Going in, said Ormond, the plan for the Rams was to stay right with Nottingham's dangerous group of skill players, who could turn routine plays into big gains by running around and wearing out pursuers.
Aside from Derrick Gore's 23-yard scoring run midway through the second quarter, that plan worked to perfection. Start to finish, the Red Rams' pursuit was relentless, constantly forcing Nottingham's runners backwards and forcing multiple big losses of yardage.
So it was only fitting that a defensive play turned the game in J-D's favor. Late in the first half, with the game tied 6-6, Nottingham had the ball on its own 37-yard line.
Taking a toss, Gore was immediately surrounded by a host of Red Rams tacklers. As they slowed Gore up, linebacker Willie Walker swiped the ball away and took off 35 yards to the other end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.