Thomas Jefferson football (Photo: Byron Jones/recruit757)
Thomas Jefferson continues to tread uncharted territory with their 11th win
by Byron Jones, recruit804
Each passing week gets no easier for the Thomas Jefferson Vikings.
Region 2A’s number one seed had their hands full on Friday night in a 30-28 nail biter of a win over King William of the Tidewater District.
Back in August, I had the privilege to sit down with some of the young men from Thomas Jefferson and their Head Coach PJ Adams at the First Annual Richmond City Football Media Day hosted at John Marshall High School.
The Tee Jay motto heading into the season was, “Everything we do is for the culture.” I asked senior Cobi Harrison to elaborate on the motto in which he replied, “We want to set a precedent for the freshman class and the classes who follow, that we are building a winning culture here.”
The winning culture at Thomas Jefferson played a key role in their effort to hold back a late surge from King William.
The first half was a defensive battle as the two teams felt each other out.
Sophomore tailback Demond Claiborne provided the only score of the first half when he scored on a 3-yard touchdown run. King William held onto a 7-0 lead for the remainder of the first half. The Cavalier defense stopped the Vikings in the red zone on three drives in order to maintain the shutout.
The second half was when Thomas Jefferson’s offense perked up.
Quarterback Ron Rhone punched in the Vikings’ first score on a fourth and goal to knot the score at 7 after the PAT.
At the 6:45 mark of the third quarter, Tee Jay would take the lead on a Rhone to Jayden Vaughn touchdown pass of 28 yards.
King William answered with a touchdown of their own on the ensuing possession to tie the game at 14.
Early in the fourth quarter Shamar Graham broke out with a 66-yard touchdown run. He would tack on a two-point conversion to put Tee Jay up 22-14. It was a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, but the Vikings would be tested.
Near the mid-point of the fourth quarter, Thomas Jefferson would extend their lead to 30-14 on a Rhone to Harrison TD pass.
King William came roaring back with a Claiborne touchdown run, a successful two-pointer, then another touchdown with 3:27 left in the game. The score was 30-28 when the Vikings stuffed the two-point conversion attempt and hung on for the win.
“It was a special moment not only for the kids, but our school district,” head coach P.J. Adams told recruit804. “We have enjoyed the cultural change. We’re fighting not just for respect for our school, but Richmond City football in general.”
By earning their 11th win and the Region 2A title, Thomas Jefferson is in uncharted territory. Since 1929, no Thomas Jefferson Football team has won as many games and no Tee Jay team has won a Regional title.
Tee Jay will travel to Stuart’s Draft for a VHSL Class 2 State Semifinal next Saturday. Game time TBA.
To commemorate the team’s highly successful 2019 season, the school is raising funds for Letterman jackets for the football program. The fundraising goal is $7,000 and they’ve reached almost $5,000 as of Monday. To donate, click here.
– Byron Jones