Everyone loves a Cinderella story and Thomas Jefferson appears to be writing a whole new chapter with its fairytale saga.
For years, the phrases Thomas Jefferson (3-0, 4-2) and football were rarely spoken together unless talking about the bottom dwellers of the SPSL conference. However, under head coach Jeff Zenisek and an 8-0 victory over Todd Beamer, the Raiders are on the verge of doing something they haven’t done in more than a decade: claim a winning record.
“From where we were last year and to see these kids and how they persevered this year, they just keep battling,” Zenisek said. “They’ve never given up, they’ve never let their heads down and they know they got something special. They work together and we talk about family and it really is.”
With such a drastic change in two short years, Zenisek credits his upperclassmen leadership for the jump-start.
“It’s really just come down to senior leadership,” said Zenisek, the former Tenino head coach. “Going into the offseason and making sure they lift. It was about creating competition. This game was important to me. It was important to these guys. Last year, I never felt that football was very important at Thomas Jefferson. And it is, it is. It’s my passion and you can tell with the seniors this year in the offseason they really took it to heart.”
The leadership was evident throughout the Friday night contest with crosstown rival Todd Beamer (1-1, 4-2), especially in a key goal-line stand.
In the waning seconds of the first half , with Jefferson up 6-0 following a Kenneth Turner 2-yard touchdown run, Beamer was knocking on the door with a fresh set of downs on the Raiders’ 3-yard line.
After giving up two on a quarterback keeper, Jefferson proceeded to hold, hold and hold the line yet again to force Beamer to turn the ball over on downs with two seconds remaining in the half.
It just so happened, this would be the last great opportunity Beamer would be presented with as the Jefferson defense continually made big plays in the second half, especially on third downs.
“That was a heck of a stand,” Zenisek said. “They were on like the six-inch line. That was huge. That really was. I’m proud of them for that and it gave us momentum going into the second half. It really did.”
Jefferson will look to continue its run when the Raiders play Kentridge (1-2, 2-4) next week. If the Raiders win, they accomplished their willlong awaited winning season, but the Jefferson football team and their faithful will be able to walk proud as will be the SPSL Northwest division champions .