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Linden routs John Essex, claims region crown

The Similarities between the Linden Patriots and the John Essex Hornets are few and far between.

Linden entered Friday night’s contest trying to build a dynasty. John Essex entered the game just trying to build a program.

End the end – this time – Goliath beat David.

The Patriots (8-0, 7-0 Region) defeated the Hornets (3-5, 1-4 Region) 64-0, snapping the Hornets’ three game win streak.

“A game like this, you go into the locker room, take of your pads and you forget about it,” said John Essex coach Leniose Rickey, who in his first year has already equaled the number of wins that the Hornets have compiled in the two previous seasons. “Those guys (Linden) have been together longer than we have and they’ve gelled. They’re playing together. That’s where we’re headed. That’s what we’re going to do. And we’re going to get there. It’s just going to take some time.”

John Essex was unable to recover from a fumble on its first offensive play and watched as Linden rolled up 64 points over the next 48 minutes.

The Patriots scored three times in the first quarter, all from short yardage thanks to John Essex turnovers.

Junior tailback Kendarious Fritts hung the first 14 on the board with runs of seven and three yards within the first seven minutes of the game. Julian Little scored the 21st point on a 4 yard run.

The Patriots opened the second quarter with a two-play drive that ended on 10 yard score from Rashad Hollins to take the 27-0 lead.

Freshman quarterback Anthony Robinson connected with Gerald Bruno on the next drive for an 11-yard touchdown toss and connected from 51 yards out with Larente Taylor a minute and a half later to put the Patriots up 43-0.

On the Hornets next drive, Patriots defensive end Justin Delaine sacked Latrelle Griffin in the endzone for a safety and Fritts took the ensuing kickoff more than 70 yards to give Linden the 52-0 lead at the break.

“I like that we played the entire game as a team,” Linden coach Andro Williams said. “I thought we played with a lot of intensity; a lot of intensity for the full 48 minutes.”

The intense Linden offense throttled back slightly in the second half as a mixture of reserves got their chance to take the field.

However, an interception by Taylor set up a 45 yard bomb from Robinson to Fritts and put the Patriots up 58-0 with four minutes left in the third.

Keiunta Goodwill capped the scoring with a 45 yard touchdown run with just more than two minutes to play. With John Essex knocking on the endzone and time winding down, Jalen Lewis picked off a pass as time expired to end the game.

The win clinched a Regional Title for the Patriots, something Williams and his squad were not completely satisfied with.

“We’re looking at the big picture,” he said. “You can be number one in the region and still get beat in the playoffs. It’s nice but it really doesn’t matter. We all want one thing. We all want that state championship. That’s what it’s about; a championship.”

Robinson finished the night with 179 yards passing. Fritts led the rushing attack with 98 yards on 15 carries.

The bright spot for the Hornets was in the ground game led by Jamie Daniels. Daniels piled up 90 yards on 11 carries. J.J. Fluker lead all Hornet receivers with 42 yards on three catches.

Linden will cap region play Friday night against hapless Autaugaville while John Essex will travel to Akron for it’s regional finale.