By Matthew Tonis
LEE — For the first two weeks of their season, the Lee Wildcats were in search of a consistent offensive attack.
Friday night, they finally found it.
The Wildcats advanced to 3-0 on the young season, defeating the Drury Blue Devils 44-0 at home behind a stable of runners dominating on the ground.
The onslaught started under two minutes into the game after a Blue Devil three and out, when the Drury long snapper sailed his snap over the head of the punter, resulting in Lee’s first possession starting at the one-yard line.
Quarterback Homer Winston took care of the rest himself, walking into the end zone to give Lee its earliest lead of the season.
That would be far from the end of the Wildcat attack.
A Ben Harding punt on Lee’s next possession pinned the Blue Devils on their own goal line, where Garrett Hopkins broke through the line of scrimmage and brought down Drury quarterback Obilio Rodriguez for a safety.
Lee’s defense continued to stifle its opposition, limiting the Drury offense to just 50 total yards.
Wildcats coach Keith Thomson pointed to the experience at linebacker in Hopkins and Andrew Ruef as one of the reasons why his defense has been trending so well for the past couple weeks, but noted that all phases of the unit have been performing well.
“We’ve just got a lot of aggressive kids,” Thomson said. “We like to play aggressive defense and we like to dictate to
the offense, not vice versa, and I think we’ve been able to do that.”
But the real story was the emergence of JJ Jimenez.
After missing the first two weeks, Jimenez found himself back in the lineup against the Blue Devils and made an immediate impact on the game.
On just seven carries, Jimenez scored three times, scoring from three and six yards out in the second quarter before capping the Lee scoring output with a 12-yard scamper in the third quarter.
“Having JJ back was a good spark to the team,” Thomson said.
But afterward, the back deflected credit to his teammates lined up in front of him.
“Our offensive line was working,” Jimenez said. “Everybody was doing their jobs. That’s why we came out the way we did.”
Jimenez was one of seven different Wildcats who ran the ball in the victory, with four players toting the rock at least seven times, creating a varied attack. Thomson said the goal is to find a role for each one and that the selflessness of each player has helped Lee develop a game plan to do that.
“We’ve got a lot of weapons,” Thomson said. “It’s a good problem to have, trying to find a way to utilize them all and put them in positions to be successful.”
Next up for the Wildcats is the Mt. Greylock Mounties, who have won their last two games. More importantly to Lee, Mt. Greylock handed it its first loss of last season a year ago.
With things going as well as they have for the Wildcats, it’s easy to be confident. But Thomson knows how much of a slugfest his team’s matchup with the Mounties will be.
“We’ll find out next week,” Thomson said. “Every week is a new battle. We’ll go watch the film on this one, make the corrections and start moving forward.”