Thomas Jefferson High shuts out rival John Marshall 37-0

Fred Jeter | 9/30/2021, 6 p.m.
It’s like Thomas Jefferson High School has planted a “Do Not Enter” sign on its defensive goal line.
Thomas Jefferson football Coach Josef Harrison, holding football, stands with his senior standouts during Monday’s practice. They are, from left, lineman Lemonta Whitaker, running back Arthur Sutton and lineman Jermaine Booker. Photo by Regina H. Boone

It’s like Thomas Jefferson High School has planted a “Do Not Enter” sign on its defensive goal line.

Coach Josef Harrison’s Vikings have allowed only three touchdowns all season while compiling a 4-1 record, by far the best among Richmond Public Schools teams.

“We’re very happy with our defense, and it’s only getting better,” Coach Harrison said after the Vikings’ 37-0 shutout last Friday of crosstown rival John Marshall High School.

Coach Harrison estimates his Vikings defense, dubbed the “Bermuda Triangle,” has amassed 30 sacks and five intercep- tions with wins over John Marshall, Greensville High (25-8), Meadowbrook High (20-6) and Armstrong High (7-0) and a loss to Amelia High (8-7).

The fired-up West Enders will try to improve to 5-1 this Friday, Oct. 1, at Deep Run High School in Western Henrico County. Kickoff is 7 p.m.

The offensive hero against John Marshall High was running back Arthur Sutton, who raced for 103 yards and three touchdowns, including a 45-yarder.

“Arthur is the kind of kid you can build around,” Coach Harrison said. “He can run between tackles or he can take off outside and turn it up field.”

The long list of defensive stalwarts includes linebacker Lor- ing Johnson, Jason Fowler, Lemonta Whitaker and Jermaine Booker.

Coach Harrison, a former Virginia Union University defensive lineman and defensive coach, is in his first season as Thomas Jefferson’s head coach after previously serving as an assistant under Coaches Chad Hornik and P.J. Adams, who is now head coach at Mills Godwin High.

The Vikings opted out of the 2020 season because of the pandemic, but were 11-3 and advanced to the State 2A semifinals in 2019. That means Thomas Jefferson, once among the area’s weaklings, is 15-4 over its last 19 games.

Competing in the state’s Class 2 based on enrollment, Thomas Jefferson will be cast in the role of “giant killer” for the rest of the regular season. The teams remaining opponents are Deep Run High (Class 5), J.R. Tucker High (Class 5), Glen Allen High (Class 5), Colonial Heights High (Class 3) and Coach Adams’ Godwin Eagles (Class 5).

The Vikings don’t seem to care about enrollments and feel no inferiority. There are no plans to take down the “Do Not Enter” sign regardless of the opponent’s higher classification.

“We’ve got something special going on here,” Coach Harrison said. “Our defense never rests.”