The Patriots (3-1) bounced back in a big way after a frustrating, 28-16, setback to national power Chaminade-Madonna on Sept. 15.
Rather than sulk after that defeat, the Patriots gained some valuable lessons that they built upon in dominating Gibbons.
Both Heritage and Gibbons (3-2) were coming off bye weeks, so each team had plenty of time to prepare. The two are considered the class of the district, and likely will meet again in the district playoffs.
“The last time we were out, we lost a tough game to Chaminade,” Patriots coach Mike Smith said. “I think we grew up a lot. I think we had to grow up a lot. The details and the urgency weren’t there. I think our guys did a really good job. We had a bye week.”
Heritage was in control from the start, and overwhelmed a quality Chiefs’ team with explosive plays, a power running attack, and a suffocating defense. Special teams even got into the act, with Samaj Jackson scoring a touchdown on a blocked punt that made it 41-7 at halftime.
“It’s a big win,” Smith said. “Any time you play Gibbons, it’s a huge win. It’s a big win because it’s a district win, as well. But we’ve got to get back to work. With a young, inexperienced group, it’s a confidence builder.”
Explosive plays put the game out of hand early
A combination of speed and power promises to make Heritage a dangerous team in highly competitive Class 2M.
The offense features many underclassmen, including sophomore quarterback Dia Bell, and sophomore receivers Malachi Toney, Brandon Bennett and Zamarii Sanders. Running backs Byron Louis, Deandre Desinor and Chance Washington are juniors.
In the first half, Bell was 3-for-5 for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Heritage opened the scoring on Bell’s 54-yard strike to Sanders.
Just how explosive are the Patriots’ receivers. Sanders runs a 10.2-second 100, and Bennett turns the time in at 10.4.
Louis and Desinor each topped 100 yards rushing in the first quarter, and at halftime Desinor had compiled 142 yards rushing and Louis had 123. Washington had two short TD runs.
Bell hooked up with Bennett for a 57-yard TD, and Louis dashed in from 25 yards to make it 34-7 late in the second quarter.
“Coming off a loss, it was very important for us to jump out early, and get an early lead, and impose our will,” Louis said. “I feel as if we left off at the Chaminade game on a pretty good run. We went through a bye week, and we just enhanced what we were working on. What we just showed is a little piece of what the future has to come.”
Desinor showed his blazing speed on a 73-yard TD run.
“The first play, I knew I was going to get the ball,” Desinor said. “I knew I had to strike and do my thing.”
Capping the scoring in the fourth quarter was Washington’s 1-yard TD.
“Heritage, for years, has been about running the ball,” Washington said. “That’s what we’re going to do, every single game. Run the ball. That’s what we are. They can’t stop us when we do that. That’s just our offense.”
Patrick Anderson nearly tops 100 yards rushing for Gibbons
The lopsided loss was frustrating for Gibbons, which has now been tripped up by two nationally-ranked teams. On Sept. 1, the Chiefs were knocked off, 41-4, at Chaminade.
Friday’s loss is especially tough since Heritage is a rival, and the outcome has district implications.
A bright spot for the Chiefs was senior running back Patrick Anderson, who finished with 98 yards rushing on 20 carries.
The lone Gibbons TD came on a 29-yard run by Cedric Wyche II, which at the time trimmed Heritage’s lead at the time to 13-7.
American Heritage's defense was “fast and physical”
The Patriots’ domination came in all phases, and defensively they swarmed to the ball, and shut down the Chiefs’ passing attack.
“We say it all the time, fast and physical,” Smith said. “I always say in the offseason, I want it to feel like we have 12 or 13 guys on the field. It can’t be 11 because they’re all over the place. We’ve had some guys who have had to step into some roles.”
Linebacker Omar Thornton is one of the defensive standouts. As was defensive back, Aldarius Johnson, who recovered a fumble in the second half.
“Our defense is not really big,” Thornton said. “We’re like, ‘fast and physical.’ We run the field for all four quarters.”