Jay football team took another step on Friday, Sept. 1 when the team won its first home game in two years and moved its record to 2-0 for the first time in five.
“We came out and did what we needed to do and got a win at home for the first time in two years. Our fans deserve that,” said Coach Warren Kirk, of the 41-20 win.
Events earlier in the day Friday though, had Kirk a little worried about how his team would react.
“I got a phone at 6 a.m. saying school was going to be cancelled with water line break," Kirk said. "As a head coach, one of your worries is something like this happening on game day and getting the kids out of their routine.
"Worrying if they are sleeping in too late. That is not good on game day. So I started to call and text the players and get them awake and get them out of bed and to the field house. Get them moving around."
He believed the events of the day did have some effect on how his team started the game.
“I thought we came out a little lethargic and that may have been as a result of the no school situation," Kirk said. "The second half we hooked up and finished the game well."
Jay came in the first quarter took an early lead with senior running back Kobe Budder taking the football in from five yards out and the Bulldogs led 6-0.
They moved it to 12-0 later in the quarter when senior Keng Vang caught a touchdown pass from senior quarterback Gabe Simpson from five yards out and Jay led 12-0.
But Vinita would come back and answer with a 27-yard touchdown pass. With successful PAT trailed 12-7.
Simpson who rushed for 75 yards on the ground got 19 on a scoring early in the second quarter to move Jay back out in front 18-7.
But Vinita once again would answer before half time with a 53-yard touchdown pass to pull again within five points going in at half time.
“Vinita has a new coach and he is doing a good job," Kirk said. "He has totally changed everything and throwing the football around and they are doing a good job. They threw the football 42 times in the game. We did a lot of good things.
"Vinita loaded the box to try and stop the run we can run or pass. We made a few adjustments at halftime but nothing really big. We came in and got after them at half time and our effort was better the second half.”
Jay scored early in the second half when Simpson hit senior Brenden Ryan on an 18-yard touchdown pass play and with the two-point conversion the Bulldogs were up 26-13.
Vinita countered with a 12-yard touchdown pass for a score and pulled within six points of the Bulldogs.
But it was Vang once more this time scoring on a five-yard run and with the two-point conversion led 34-20.
Simpson had 315 yard passing on the night to go along with his 75 rushing. Vang had another great game he had a touchdown passing, one receiving and one rushing in the game.
“Keng has been playing really well for us,” said Kirk.
The icing on the cake came in the fourth quarter when Simpson hit Vang on a pass play that turned into a 94-yard scoring jaunt.
Simpson finished 14-28 for 314 yards and three touchdowns. Vang finished with 136 receiving while Ryan had 58 yards and sophomore Daylon Simpson 57 in receptions.
Senior linebacker Trader Osburn led the team on defense with two sacks and five tackles. Senior Jaden Shotpouch and Gabe Simpson both had interceptions for the Bulldogs.
“I was pleased I am never going to be mad about a win,” said Kirk.
What's next? Facing Grove in the Delaware County Bowl on Friday, Sept. 8, at home.
“Grove will be the best team we have played so far this year," Kirk said. "They are big and really good up front.
“This week in practice we are going to be physical in practice and knock each other around a little bit. Get prepared for Friday night. Friday night will be a really physical football game. That is how we are going to practice all week.”
Kirk knows what his team will have to come out with a win.
“We are going to have to protect the football," Kirk said. "On offense our running backs and receivers are going to have to go make plays. We need to be able to run the football against them. We are going to have to be balanced on offense.
“Defensively we are going to have to read our keys. We are going to have to go and do our job."
Ultimately, Kirk said, his team will need to play "good sound football.”
“This is Jay vs. Grove, Delaware County Bowl. We are playing for a trophy," Kirk said. "As far the as the towns are concerned they both want this win.
"As far as non-district games it is as about as good as it gets. I think it is important for us to get better each week and to go get a win against your big rival.
"Our seniors are 0-3 against them and want to go get the win and bring the trophy back home."
“The whole team everyone is playing a lot better this season," Simpson said. "I feel a lot better than being 0-2. We have put all the work in for four years and we are finally seeing the out come of it."
Simpson has passed for 516 yards in two football game and rushed for 169. One of his chief targets is Ryan.
“I just think the difference so far this year is just the love we have for one another," Ryan said. "We don’t want to let each other down and want to strive to be good."
As far as Grove is concerned the two Bulldogs had two different perspectives.
“Grove is just another team on the schedule we just need to go out and play them,” said Simpson.
While Ryan is a for Ridgerunner now Bulldog.
“I am originally from Grove I just want to beat them really bad,” said Ryan.
Game time is 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8 at J.B. Earp Stadium in Jay.