Sports

Special teams dominate in Jefferson loss

By CASEY OLSON

Sports editor

The Thomas Jefferson Raiders had their chances Friday night. Chances that they didn’t take advantage of. The Raiders were downed 31-12 by the Rogers Rams in both teams’ season openers in the South Puget Sound League South Division at Federal Way Memorial Stadium.

“We had our opportunities,” said coach Kevin Hanis.

The final score didn’t indicate how close the game really was. The Raiders trailed 17-12 going into the fourth quarter, but Jefferson’s special teams gave up a pair of punt return touchdowns in the final 10 minutes to finalize the score.

“We only had 10 guys on the field on the second one,” Hanis said. “So that one was my fault.”

The Raiders actually had first-and-10 from the Rogers’ 39 yard line in the final minutes of the third quarter with a chance to cut into the 17-12 Ram lead. But the Raiders ended up fumbling.

“I guess it was the typical first game when we haven’t played a jamboree,” Hanis said. “There were a lot of mistakes. I think we had 15 penalties and they had 10 or 11.”

The Raiders are going to need to cut down the mental and physical mistakes if they want to compete in their next game. Jefferson travels to Art Crate Stadium to take on the No.-3 ranked, three-time defending SPSL South champion Bethel Braves Friday night. The Raiders will get some help when five starters, who didn’t play against Rogers, become eligible for the Bethel game.

“This is the SPSL,” Hanis said. “It is going to be a challenge. There are no weak sisters here.”

Bethel moved to 1-0 with a 48-22 victory over Emerald Ridge Friday night. Running back Zack Fletcher led the Braves with 145 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns. In total, the Braves racked up 453 yards of total offense.

“They are not like they have been in the past,” Hanis said. “They don’t have the speed to run away from you like years past. But they have no weaknesses. They come right at you. They might not have a guy who can go 80 yards, but they have one that will go 20.”

The Raiders, however, do have a guy that can go 80 yards in receiver Kyle Jenkins. The senior caught four balls for 101 yards and a touchdown against Rogers and returned a kickoff 81 yards for the Raiders other touchdown. Jenkins also had an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown called back because of a Raider penalty.

“He is a pretty good athlete,” Hanis said.

Senior quarterback James Partridge, making his second high school start, was fairly impressive against Rogers. The senior threw for 187 yards on 7-of-20 passing and the one touchdown.

“We just need to give him a little more protection,” Hanis said. “If we give him more time he is a pretty good quarterback.”

Sports editor Casey Olson, 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com.

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