‘Dores welcome challenge from out-of-state opponent
When North Panola canceled their Week 2 matchup with Lafayette late in the summer it left head coach Eric Robertson scrambling to find an opponent. With most of Mississippi teams already having their non-region schedule filled the Commodores had to turn to the Internet and look for an opponent outside the state lines.
Clayton High School answered their request. The Class 4 school out of St. Louis, Missouri will travel to Oxford and take on Lafayette at William L. Buford Stadium Friday 7 p.m. (93.7 FM)
“We just advertised it on different states’ websites that we had an open date,” Robertson said. “We advertised in Tennessee and Alabama. We looked down in Florida and some other places… I think (Clayton) just contacted me.”
Playing an opponent from a different state is not anything new to Lafayette (1-0) as well as other north Mississippi schools as many try to schedule out-of-state opponents in their non-region schedule, mostly from Tennessee. The Commodores have traveled as far south as Fort Walton Beach, Florida and as close as Memphis University School, who they faced last season.
An unknown opponent from two states away has added some excitement this week for Commodores players who were already feeling good about themselves after the 34-7 win over Horn Lake last week.
“We like to have an out-of-state game on our schedule,” Robertson said. “I think we’ve had one on our schedule the last five or six years. Either us traveling or someone traveling here… It adds excitement and a little unknown (to the week). You face a team from a team from a different state and you get the opportunity to represent Lafayette County and Oxford but the whole state of Mississippi.”
The Greyhounds of Clayton High come to Oxford after suffering a 29-21 loss at the hands of Lutheran North (St. Louis) in their season opener last weekend. Robertson received game film from Clayton (0-1) on Sunday and was impressed with what he and the rest of the coaching staff saw.
Junior Liam Heusel and sophomore Domick Waller are listed as the two quarterbacks for Clayton. Senior Anthony Cameron, who was listed as a quarterback last season, now plays at the wide-out position along with fellow senior Demetrius Norman II. Senior Teyler Melvin handles the running game duties.
“You can tell they are very well-coached,” Roberston said. “They have size on the offensive and defensive line. (Norman) is a really good receiver and (Melvin) is a good solid running back. They have a lot of good skill players.”
Robertson said Clayton runs a 4-2-5 scheme on the defensive side of the ball.
With the excitement of playing a new team on top of their big season-opening win against Horn Lake Robertson has had to make sure the players do not get too high heading into Friday’s matchup.
“Our kids were excited and we’re glad they’re excited but you sit there and watch film and you ground them a little bit,” Robertson said. “You work on those mistakes that you see on film. We got right back at and got right back to work. It has been a good week of practice.”
Some of that was working on what Robertson called ‘things that only show up on film’ with junior quarterback Will Ard. Ard is coming off his first start with Lafayette and played a nearly flawless game, throwing one touchdown and completing nine passes for 169 yards and no interceptions.
“Just technique things,” Robertson said. “Being on the right side or some bad angles show up. Some of those smaller mistakes that will make a difference down the road. Overall I thought he graded out very well for his first ball game.”
Lafayette did not leave Horn Lake completely unscathed as junior linebacker Kyler Campbell suffered an ACL injury that will keep him out for the season. Campbell was starter on special teams and was the first substitution for the Commodores at the linebacker position.
“It was a big loss to our football team and someone is going to have to step up and take his spot,” Robertson said.