By Donnell Suggs
With the football season fast approaching in Chambers County The LaFayette Sun will feature both of the county high school football programs in its 2015 FOOTBALL PREVIEW. The job of a proper preview section is to inform the readers and fans (or is that the other way around) of the team’s key players, newcomers, coaching changes (if any) and expectations on the upcoming season ahead. First up: LAFAYETTE HIGH SCHOOL
The 2015 LaFayette High School football season starts in nine days and the expectations for the Bulldogs have been fluctuating between humble-they did finish 2014 with a single victory after all-to hopeful, some might even say confident. “The kids are starting to build trust in each other,” said head coach James Lucas. “Everything is coming along good.”
STARS ALIGNING FOR THE BULLDOGS
Coach Lucas’ team is full of upperclassmen at key leadership positions and will come into this season more prepared than ever for the rough and tumble Class 2A Region 5 schedule. More on the games later, now let’s take a look at some of the players set to make immediate impacts this season. A few players are coming into their senior season on track for college scholarships, others are high on college scouting reports already are looking to make their junior season a springboard to even more offers. Another is still in the eighth grade and will have to ask his parents to extend his current curfew a few extra hours on Friday nights this fall.
Walter Dukes-Senior-Inside Linebacker
Dukes played on both sides of the ball last season but the coaching staff wants him to focus on what looks to be not only his best position but his best bet for a Division 1 football scholarship. Coach Lucas and new defensive coordinator Corey Thornton want to utilize their player’s athletic gifts. “Our kids play one position in the system I’m implementing,” said Lucas. Dukes may have another opportunity to play offense when he gets to the college level which looks like a sure bet as he is being heavily recruited by a number of schools. Lucas says,” He’s being recruited by some of the big boy schools and being recruited as an inside linebacker.” Georgia State University (Sun Belt conference) in Atlanta looks to be in the lead thus far according to his coaches.
Matthew Cartwright and Takeo Higgins-Seniors-Cornerback and Defensive End
Seniors Matthew Cartwright and Takeo Higgins will be counted on to help anchor a defense that will be the heart and soul of the program this season. Cartwright, a 5’10” 178 pound cornerback and Higgins, a 5’11” 194 pound end (who also played a little inside linebacker last season) are looking to take on leadership roles within the defense. Solid seasons from both should garner looks from Division 1 and 2 colleges as both are currently being recruited by in-state and out-of-state schools at present time.
Robert Houston, Zarian Heard and Sebasken Holloway-Sophomore and Junior Running Backs
The three-headed monster that will be the Bulldogs running back corp is set to solidify the running attack this season. With uncertainty at the quarterback position (more on that later) Sophomore Robert Houston and junior backs Sebasken Holloway and Zarian Heard will all get plenty of carries this fall. Heard doubled last year at the linebacker position-he had a 10 tackle game at Saks last season-but will be the anchor of the trio. Both Houston and Holloway are making their Bulldog debuts as transfer students from Decatur, Georgia and Opelika (Ala.), respectively. All three will be necessary if the Bulldogs are going to make some noise in what looks to be another tough Region 5 schedule. “We have a tough region and it’s going to come down to the end,” says Lucas. “It will all be about being prepared.”
Corey Boston-Senior-J.P. Powell Middle School-Varsity Quarterback
The statistics won’t blow you away: 95 yards passing on the road at Ranburne, one carry for five yards vs. Loachapoka another seven on a carry at Saks. Now take into account that those numbers were from a seventh grader playing varsity high school football last year. A year older, with a little more varsity experience under his belt Corey Boston-whose older brother Omar [Boston] plays outside linebacker as a sophomore for the Bulldogs-will get the opportunity to start at quarterback for LaFayette this fall. The 5’3”, 130 pound middle schooler has the confidence of his coaches. “[He’s] a hard worker, he’s a playmaker and puts dedication into everything,” said Lucas. “Now that he’s in the eighth grade he’s probably looking to be the starter [at quarterback].”
Last season Corey played the full five game junior varsity football season (along with his duties as the JV starting point guard) before coming up to the varsity for a cup of coffee. That experience will undoubtedly help Boston get prepared for the 2015 season behind center. “He played for me some last year as a seventh grader and he’s the only eighth grader I kept on varsity this year,” says Lucas. It’s not like starting quarterbacks in high school had many people to relate to, especially ones with baby teeth. The class of 2020 will be well represented on the football field this season.
The new quarterback will be well guarded this season by one of the most experienced offensive lineman in the region. Senior right tackle Courtney Holloway looks to cap his high school on a winning note while anchoring a young line. Coach Lucas said,”Courtney’s very intelligent, he’s the leader of the line especially this season with freshman and sophomores filling out the rest of the positions.”
There is a 10:48 video clip on hudl.com that has been viewed more than 480 times that displays junior quarterback/widereciever/kick return/cornerback JaTarvious Whitlow during his sophomore season scoring touchdwons five different ways. This season looks to be the one that separates him from the other players in the state-most at bigger schools with bigger programs-and elevates him to the top of the college coach’s wish lists. Also a starting point guard on the state championship basketball team, Whitlow will have to outdo himself this season if LaFayette is going to keep the points coming. This season he is expected to be more of a receiver than running back and quarterback. “He’s an athlete,” says Lucas. “He can play anywhere, anywhere the coaches and I want him to play he can play it and play it well.” Lucas continued,” with our three running backs (and Boston at the quarterback position) it will take some pressure off of him [this season].”
READY OR NOT
The tools are in the box and the job is directly ahead of the LaFayette Bulldogs football program, all they have to do now is go out and do it starting with opening night at Beauregard on Friday, August 21. Ready or not it’s football season. “You can’t take a week off in our region,” says Coach Lucas.