By Ron Balaskovitz/Sand Mountain Reporter
Messenger file photo by Bethany Smith
After a slow start in the first quarter against Etowah County neighbor and Class 2A, Region 6 rival Gaston last Friday (Sept. 17), West End head football coach Derrick Sewell sat down with his team for what he called a “tough talk.”
That discussion ended up paying off in a big way in spearheading the Patriots’ 53-8 win on homecoming in Walnut Grove.
With his team leading 7-0 after one quarter, Sewell’s talk lit a fire as the Patriots went off for 19 points in the second to stretch the lead to 26-0. West End never looked back before adding 27 more points in the second half.
“We just focused on us,” Sewell said of what changed early on. “At times we fall victim to feeling out the opponent, but we’re trying to get to the place of realizing who we are and what we’re going to do, so let’s go out and execute. We had a little bit of a tough talk there to kind of get our focus back where it needed to be, but the big focus was executing the game plan.”
The Patriots (2-3, 1-2) were carried by the rushing duo of Rockman Sainsbury and Isaiah Roberson (pictured above), who combined for nearly 320 yards and five touchdowns. Sainsbury finished the night with 150 yards and a pair of scores on eight carries, while Roberson carried the ball 11 times for 167 yards and three scores. Quarterback Ty Jones was efficient, going 5 of 8 for 105 yards and a score.
“That’s where I like to be,” Sewell said of the ground game leading the way.
Defensively, the Patriots kept the Bulldogs (0-5, 0-3) off the board until late in the fourth quarter when they had subbed in most of their junior high players.
Sewell crediting the defensive staff and coordinator Zach Smith for their game plan.
“We challenged them Monday (September 13) because it felt like we weren’t playing up to the level, mentally and physically, of where we expected to be,” Sewell said. “So, we challenged the guys this week. There were positions that were up for grabs, and ultimately, I think that’s what helped us put together a pretty good showing.”
Thad Pearce led the way defensively with 10 tackles, followed by Ashton Self with eight. Self also returned a fumble 33 yards for a touchdown.
The Patriots look to get back to .500 this Friday (Sept. 23) with a road game against Class 1A Appalachian. Gaston hosts Ragland in non-region action.