The rich get richer.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, journalist to the stars Robin Leach took the country on an inside view of the world of glitz and glamour on “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”
Last season, both West Jefferson High School and Mechanicsburg High School football teams were a part of gridiron royalty as they each reached the Final Four in their respective divisions.
Despite each losing an enormous number of starters from both sides of the ball, the Roughriders and the Indians put on a memorable contest — continuing to show why the match-up between these schools is a great way to start Football Friday Nights.
In honor of Leach’s birthday, West Jeff showed they still had a ‘wealth’ of talent as a late touchdown by Roughriders DJ Braithwaite gave the home squad a heart-stopping 21-14 victory over visiting Mechanicsburg.
Braithwaite pounded it in from two yards out with 27 seconds left in the game to lead coach Shawn Buescher’s team.
The play was made possible as Mechanicsburg’s Aeryton Erwin got the ball striped as he was going in for a potentially-winning touchdown. West Jeff recovered in the end zone and never relinquished the ball until after the winning tally.
A goal line stand right before the half shifted the momentum square in the home team’s favor and vaulted the Roughriders to a small halftime lead.
As the first half was winding down, Indians’ quarterback Kaleb Romero scampered down the left sideline to inside the West Jeff 20 yard line. For the next minute and a half Mechanicsburg tried mightily to punch it in to the end zone, but a stop by Roughriders Chandler Perry with four seconds remaining in the second quarter sent West Jeff into the intermission still with its slim 7-6 lead.
After some early game jitters (in the form of a trio of uncharacteristic motion penalties), the Roughriders got on the board first as quarterback Mitch Denes dumped the ball into the outstretched fingertips of receiver Tyler Jones, who outran the competition for a 47-yard touchdown. Cody Dingess added the all-important extra point.
A combination of strong defenses and turnovers made the game a back and fourth struggle. Key tackles by West Jeff’s DJ Braithwaite and Ilya Peshko kept the Indians at bay much of the first half.
Mechanicsburg punched it in from two yards out midway through the second quarter as Aeryton Erwin took it through the middle into the end zone. The Indians conversion attempt, however, was unsuccessful, leaving the visitors trailing by a point.
As the second half began, both offenses continued to sputter as the defenses flexed their collective muscles. Other than a pretty Denes-to-Jones 39-yard pass play, the third quarter was filled with short runs and incomplete passes by both offenses.
That was until Roughriders QB Denes found some running room up the middle late in the quarter. After teammate Braithwaite plowed through the Indians defense for a few, Wes Jeff’s AJ Murry slid through the gut, landing just short of the goal line. Two plays later, Denes took it in from a yard out.
The Indians tied it up at 14-14 on the first play of the fourth as Erwin ran it in from two yards out and Romero ran in the two-pointer.
West Jefferson. 7-7- 0.-7
Mechanicsburg. 0- 6- 0.
WJ — Tyler Jones 47 pass from Mitch Denes (Cody Dingess kick)
MECH — Aeryton Erwin 2 run ( kick failed)
WJ — Denes 1 run (Dingess kick)
MECH — Erwin 2 run (Kaleb Romero run)
WJ — DJ Braithwaite 2run (Dingess kick)