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Lafayette putting last season behind them

Michael Fair does not talk about 2017 with this team or his coaching staff and he has not done so for a few months. It is a season that is best left forgotten to the history books.

Coming off an improbable run to the 2016 MHSAA Class 4A state championship, Lafayette was poised to do big things their first season in Class 5A. The season did not stick to the script with the Commodores losing their first five games.

Lafayette went 3-3 in the second half of the year, but missed out on the playoffs due to a loss against Lake Cormorant in their final regular season game.

“We don’t bring it up,” Fair said. “I don’t really allow my coaches to talk about it. There’s just so much negative that could be involved in it. It’s kind of like we’ve put it behind us. We’ve learned from it, we’re better because of it. We’re better players, we’re better coaches because of the circumstances that we went through. It’s just time to move on.”

Fair wants a fresh start, as most teams do at the start of a new season, not so much for him but for the players. The 2018 season started on Monday with preseason practices beginning.

Spring and summer workouts provided a lot of positives to help Lafayette forget about all the injuries, the losses and missed opportunities of last year. With the year broken up into ‘four seasons’ as Fair calls them, it also allowed for time to heal all wounds.

“We took a lot of momentum out of the spring into our summer,” Fair said. “I think they all feed off each other. If you can carry momentum into summer from your spring, if you can carry momentum from your summer into your preseason you just put yourself so much further into the game.”

The topic of discussion around the weight room and fieldhouse during the summer may not have been about 2017, but that does not mean it was not a silent motivator. During the early workouts; four days a week in the summer; Fair would pull up to weight room with players already waiting at the door.

The motivation was evident.

“It’s the elephant in the room,” Fair said. “A lot of those guys are wanting to make sure they don’t go through the same issues that maybe we had in the past.”

Nighttime is the right time
With most of their summer activities taking place early in the mornings, Fair is changing things up for practices. Lafayette will hold practices from 7-9 p.m. until school begins on Friday, when practice will begin at 3:30 p.m.

The idea is not so much to avoid the heat of the afternoon but to try and fit as much into a two-hour practice as Fair can.

“It’s just different,” Fair said. “We’re to the point where we’re a mature football team with a lot of seniors, a lot of game experience. I just felt like we could get more done at a faster pace when we’re not worried about the sun on our backs. I’ve never been the kind to go around heat because it’s part of what we do. So, it’s not like we’re trying to avoid that and avoid the mental toughness that goes with that. We’re wanting to get so much done in those two hours a day, I’m just trying maximize every minute we’ve got.”

Lafayette will host South Panola for a jamboree game on Aug. 10. Junior varsity will play at 6 p.m. followed by the varsity at 7 p.m.