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‘Dores to get familiar look from New Albany

Lafayette’s next region test will be administered by a familiar teacher.

The Commodores will try to take another step toward a second straight Region 2-4A title Friday when New Albany visits William L. Buford Stadium. The Bulldogs are coached by Jake Hill, who left Oxford in December after spending several years as an assistant for his father, Chargers head coach Johnny Hill, to take over a team in need of a different direction.

The younger Hill’s forte was on the defensive side of the ball at Oxford, serving as the Chargers’ defensive backs coach and co-defensive coordinator, but Lafayette coach Eric Robertson said the Bulldogs look familiar in all aspects to what Lafayette (7-1, 2-0 Region 2-4A) has seen from Oxford over the years.

“We’ve seen some similarities, especially on special teams, between them and Oxford,” Robertson said. “That’s expected with Jake being at Oxford for several years, and they should do some things that they do. They’ve had a lot of success.

“They base out of a 3-3 stack similar to what Oxford has played a lot over the years and similar to what we do, so it is familiar to us.”

New Albany (4-4, 1-1) has been much more successful under its first-year coach.

The Bulldogs won five combined games in the previous two seasons before Hill’s arrival and have nearly equaled that total through eight games. They enter Friday’s game just one game back of Lafayette in the region standings.

Lafayette has outscored New Albany 75-28 in the last two meetings and is fresh off a 30-7 win at Rosa Fort in a matchup between the top 2 teams in the 4A classification, but Robertson said he’s emphasized to his team this week the importance of not taking this year’s game lightly against “a much-improved” Bulldog squad for more reasons than one.

“This one is so much more important than the last one because a goal of ours is to win the region,” Robertson said. “We can do that by winning every region game, so it’s just a matter of getting it across to them how important the next region game is. We want to put a lot of emphasis on Lafayette and how we can get better from one week to the next.”

Streaking in
The Commodores are riding a four-game winning streak, allowing less than eight points per game over that time. But much like Oxford, New Albany will try to keep the Commodores honest with a wide-open attack that features balance. Quarterback Sam McMillin has thrown for 1,126 yards and eight scores while the Bulldogs have run for 1,415 yards.

“They want to spread it out, throw it a little bit, and then they’ll do some unbalanced sets and try to get an advantage and create some angles to give them leverage,” Robertson said.

Braudrique Boyd is a featured playmaker Lafayette will have to keep tabs on throughout the night. Boyd, who alternates between running back and receiver and will even take snaps at times, leads New Albany in rushing (485 yards) and receiving (303) and has accounted for a team-high 15 touchdowns.

“We know they’re going to try to get it in his hands, and we’ve got to do a good job of gang-tackling him and getting to their quarterback,” Robertson added.

The Commodores will be as healthy as a team can expect to be at this point of the season. Wide receiver Juwan Kinds and linebacker/receiver Dillon Woods dealt with flu-like symptoms last week, Robertson said, but both are good to go this week.

“We’re in pretty good shape,” Robertson said.