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John Essex holds Hatch to 0-0 tie in jamboree

Looking at the stats from John Essex’s jamboree game at R.C. Hatch on Wednesday, you would think the Hornets took it on the chin, but the games aren’t played on calculators and drive charts. The Essex defense played tough, and the teams left the field with a 0-0 tie.

Junior A.J. Bennett hauled in three interceptions, including one on each of the Bobcats’ opening two drives, amassing 75 yards of return yardage, including a 52-yarder in the third quarter from the endzone.

R.C. Hatch tossed five interceptions in 21 pass attempts, while John Essex threw one and gave up a fumble.

The Hornets got into Bobcat territory only twice, both times in the second half. The first came following the 52-yard interception return by Bennett, and the second was on its final drive of the game, when JEHS got its sole first down of the game.

The Essex defense was on the field for almost 21 of the 32 minutes in the game, but stayed tough throughout despite the heat and humidity. R.C. Hatch ran a variety of offensive patterns, running options, shovel passes and delayed running plays.

On offense, quarterback Letrelle Griffin led the Hornets with 28 yards on eight carries. For R.C. Hatch, Jeremy Howard had 63 yards on nine rushes, while Trenton Tucker had 22 yards on seven carries. Howard and Devante Paige each had 29 receiving yards in the game.

The Hornet defense carried over one bugaboo from last year, jumping too soon on defense, something that will come with more practice and discipline.

“There are two things that I go over with (the team) every day: discipline and conditioning,” said JEHS first-year head coach Lenoire Richie. “We’ve got to get better discipline for four quarters, and we’ve got to get better conditioning where we can play for 48 minutes.

“We played well at times (in the game). When we didn’t play well, it was because we were undisciplined. In the fourth quarter, we just ran out of gas.

“Our philosophy on defense is: As long as they’ve got to snap it one more time, we’re in good shape,” he said. “We got backed up and let them in the red zone one time, but I was very impressed with the way the defense stood up and kept them out of the endzone.”

R.C. Hatch head coach Jammie Abrahams also praised his team’s defense.

“They showed a lot of unity,” he said. “We are a senior-oriented team, so I expected them to gel like that. A lot of these guys have been playing since the eighth grade. We’re going to be all right.

“We’ve got to work on our passing game a lot more. We didn’t have a strong off-season like we should have. Our timing is kind of off; we ran the routes right, but the timing was off. The offense we run is multi-dimensional. We ran the option, we ran some dives. We are a very unpredictable team, and a lot of people are going to find that, because we are really talented. We had a lot of guys who started last year who didn’t even play in this game.”

John Essex opens its regular-season schedule on Thursday, Aug. 27, at regional rival A.L. Johnson, while R.C. Hatch kicks off its 2009 campaign on Friday, Aug. 28, at Livingston.