Rams Are Here to Stay

Lafayette Football Continues Defensive Domination Against Warhill


Stephen Council

Lafayette and Warhill battle late in the first quarter on Friday, September 15th as Warhill’s home stands look on.

On a perfect Friday evening at Wanner Stadium, Lafayette’s football team conquered Warhill yet again, 24-7. The win gave the Rams their 44th Bay Rivers District victory in a row, and improved the team’s season record to 2-1.

The game looked close from the start, as Warhill intercepted Lafayette quarterback Cesar Ward’s first pass from scrimmage. The teams then exchanged punts and showed strong defenses, but Lafayette broke through with a field goal close to the end of the first quarter.

Referees and Lafayette coaches look on as Lafayette prepares to take a first quarter snap. Photo by Stephen Council

The theme of the year may be defense for the Rams, but before the game Ward cited the running game and passing game as vital parts of the team as well. The senior QB was proven right in the second quarter when Lafayette jumped out to a 10-0 lead with 8:45 remaining. This pass touchdown was followed by a long run for another score with 2:31 left in the half, T.J. Epps screaming around the left side and Ward throwing the final, vicious block.

Warhill finally answered with 2:08 left in the third quarter, connecting for a 75+ yard pass and run. This touchdown got the home Lion fans on their feet, but the Rams rolled back in the fourth quarter to make it 24-7 on a Dea-Mario Tyler run. This seemed to take the life out of Warhill’s game, and time expired without another score.

Lafayette’s student section dressed in all white to lend support to the white-clad Rams on Friday night. Photo by Stephen Council

The main strength for the Rams this year has certainly been defense. After a still-strong Week 1 loss to I.C. Norcom, the Lafayette side has settled in, allowing no points against Smithfield and only 7 against Warhill. A veteran front led by Armonii Burden and Jack Erwin had the goal of not allowing a single score by the Lions’ capable offense on Friday.

The Rams are lucky to have the pair of senior linebackers, because a huge part of last year’s squad graduated in the spring. The graduating class of 2017 had never lost a Bay Rivers District game. T.J. Epps, a senior, has filled some of the void at wide receiver and cornerback, and made his presence felt with the touchdown against Warhill. Ishmael Roy is coming into his own as kicker and punter, and Cesar Ward cites Mike Rogers, Isaac Duncan, and Jordan Ballowe as other surprising strengths this year. Ward said that the game against Warhill “just means more,” and it’s hard to argue with him. Both sets of stands were packed, and the student sections and bands were in top form.

Erwin, a senior and one of Lafayette’s four captains, never had any doubt about the winning result. The outside linebacker actually is committed to Richmond for lacrosse, but was recognized as the Daily Press “Football Player of the Week” after his outstanding performance against Smithfield in Lafayette’s second game.

Erwin says the team goal is just the same as in years past. “We want to…” Erwin shakes his head now, smiling, “We WILL make it to States.” Despite the commotion and Twitter fighting that go along with every cross-town rivalry game, he said “It’s just another game… just one step toward States.”

@lhs_ramnation16, @chrisw1217, @WarhillPep, and @GavinByron52 all released popular tweets centered around the game.

Warhill students painted the Lafayette rock earlier in the week, emblazoning “3-0” in the Lion colors of black and light blue. This was a definite taunt, suggesting that on Friday night they could add another win to their 2-0 record. The message stung for the Rams this year especially, as the team lost its first game and dropped from the top of the league table for the first time in years.

However, the authoritative victory on Friday night for the Rams quenches any hopes Warhill had of becoming Williamsburg’s top team in 2017. The dominant defense, physical offense, and flawless special teams play against the Lions should encourage Ram faithful for the year ahead. It may have been just another game for a couple of the veteran Rams, but the resounding victory against Warhill was a loud, clear statement. Lafayette is here to stay.