‘Dores prep for battering Rams, weather
Lafayette has faced its share of balanced offenses this season.
But if the Commodores want to extend their season another week, they’ll have to stop one that will come at them head on Friday.
Lafayette will open the MHSAA Class 4A playoffs at William L. Buford Stadium against Gentry, which would much rather pound on its opponents with a bruising game than use the forward pass in its attempt to move the ball. The Rams have been of the battering variety this season, racking up nearly four times as many rushing yards (2,380) as passing (601).
“They’ll get in two tight (ends) with four backs in the backfield, and they can come right at you,” Lafayette coach Eric Robertson said. “They go a lot of unbalanced (formations), but they want to run the football. They’ll spread it out and throw it when they have to, but they want to run the football.”
Gentry quarterback Delametric Fairley has run for nearly as many yards (435) as he’s thrown for (560), but the bigger threat is senior running back Marquvius Kirkham, who’s accounted for more than half of the Rams’ yards on the ground by himself with 1,333 and eight touchdowns. Kirkham is averaging 8.4 yards per carry.
When the Rams (6-4) want to change up the pace, they’ll bring speedy wideout Marikius Love behind center.
“We’re definitely going to have to wrap him up,” Robertson said of Kirkham. “He looks like a real strong runner. Runs the ball well, and he’s the guy they like to give it to. They’ll bring (Love) in and run the Wildcat with him. He’s a lot faster kid.”
The better teams on Gentry’s schedule have been able to at least slow the Rams down. Gentry has surpassed 200 rushing yards in all but two games, including a trio of 300-yard games. The Rams lost both of those games against Greenwood and Holmes County Central, playoff teams in their respective classifications.
Charleston and Tunica-Rosa Fort are teams Lafayette (9-2) has already played with similar run-heavy schemes with similar athletes, Robertson said, and the Commodores held them to seven combined points. It will be strength against strength come Friday with third-ranked Lafayette allowing just 12 points per game.
“I think we’re treating this week just like we do every week defensively making sure we try to stop the run and force them into a passing situation,” Robertson said. “We haven’t looked at the stats a whole lot. Hadn’t brought that up.”
Lafayette leans on the ground game as well with senior Tyrell Price (1,849 yards, 28 TDs) leading a rushing attack that’s churned out 2,523 yards. The philosophies could be more beneficial than usual for both sides this week.
Heavy rain is expected in the area Friday. The Commodores had not practiced with wet footballs as of Wednesday, but Robertson said that could change as his team finalizes its preparation.
The Commodores have dealt with precipitation some this season, playing through a steady rain during most of their 30-7 win over Rosa Fort, but Robertson views any possible benefit for either team as a draw.
“We’re comfortable with it, and you just try to block that out and not let it be an issue,” Robertson said. “The game kind of treats both teams well I think with what we try to do on offense.”