West Rusk won its first seven games of the 2015 season, then reeled off seven straight wins in the 2016 season.
That’s two fairly big benchmarks for the 2017 team to measure itself against, and the ’17 Raiders are off to a good start.
West Rusk won its opener in about the most convincing way imaginable on Friday night in Winnsboro, dealing them a 33-0 loss, but also completely shutting them down. The Raiders’ defense was a masterpiece – Winnsboro finished with negative 7 yards, just four first downs.
WR (1-0) has an early – really an unwanted – open date this Friday, created when All-Saints, which had been the scheduled opponent, elected to change its football status to independent.
Coach John Frazier’s Raiders will be back in action next Friday, Sept. 15, in a non-district game at Sabine.
The Raiders might be hard pressed to have a better single game defensively the rest of the season, this was that impressive. Junior Orlando Cortez led the team in tackles (13), with two for loss. Another junior, Diego Molina, had three sacks, 11 tackles and five for loss, and senior Darrien Johnson had eight tackles, four for loss, and two sacks. Matthew Davidson had a sack.
Tyree Wilson, a senior, also had three tackles, three for loss. West Rusk threw Winnsboro for losses 18 times in the game; Winnsboro finished with -17 yards rushing.
Also, Cortez caused a fumble, and Wilson recovered two.
Winnsboro’s passing game didn’t fare any better. Winnsboro quarterback Preston Byrnes was 2-of-5 for just 11 yards.
The Raiders’ defense almost overshadowed a fantastic game by junior tailback Jaylon Garland, who was off to a great season in 2016 before an injury. Garland came back with a vengeance Friday night. He rushed for 180 yards on 18 carries (10 yards a carry), and scored four touchdowns. D.J. Hart had 61 yards rushing. Quarterback Lajavius “L.J.” Harper also had a score and finished with 19 yards. Ladarron Jones had 19 yards.
The Raiders didn’t throw that much; they didn’t have to. Harper was 3-of-9 for 16 yards. Koure Johnson caught 2 passes for 8 yards, and Hart caught one, for 8.
Kicker Levi Hughes, a senior, was 3-for-3 in extra point attempts. Johnson did have a catch on a two-point conversion.