By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – By now, a casual high school football fan in Northeast Mississippi has heard all about Lafayette High quarterback Jeremy Liggins and running back Demarkous Dennis.
“Those guys have been doing it together since they’ve been sophomores,” offensive coordinator Dennis Robbins said about the two standouts leading the Commodores’ current offensive system. “We put that in, I guess, the spring of Jeremy’s sophomore year. And we’ve been doing it ever since.
“He and Demarkous have been together there the whole time, so they’ve really got a good feel for each other.”
But what about those guys blocking up front for them and the rest of the Lafayette High offense that is averaging nearly 381 total yards and 44 points a game?
Center Vic Rather, right guard Mario Toles, right tackle D’Andre Greer, left guard Morgan Klepzig and left tackle Trae Williams have been doing as fine a job as they can do. After all, it’s not just Liggins and Dennis scoring touchdowns for the top-ranked Commodores (15-0), who are looking to defend their MHSAA Class 4A state championship on Saturday afternoon against Laurel.
There’s six other players who have found the end zone this year.
“We only really had two offensive lineman returning from last year that started,” Robbins said. “And Vic played a lot at center last year, too, but not all the time. So, two full-time starters and one part-time starter returned.
“But they’ve done a fantastic job for us this year.”
Just as impressive as the ‘Dores’ offense is is their defense – in particular the defensive line.
“One thing that goes unnoticed a lot is that we only rush three probably 90 percent of the time and get pressure with three,” said head coach Anthony Hart. “When you can get pressure with three and drop eight (in pass coverage), that’s a big deal.”
So who are those three, on the line of scrimmage, for a defense that has held opponents to 9.33 points per game, registered 60 sacks and forced 38 turnovers?
At nose guard, there’s 6-foot, 340-pound D.Q. Reynolds, who averages 4.5 tackles per game and has registered five sacks on the year.
At left defensive end, senior Keeyon Thompson has been a force, averaging 4.3 tackles and sacking the quarterback a team-high 12 times this season.
On the other side, junior Cortez Coleman has been just as productive, making 4.2 tackles a game and tying Thompson for the team lead in sacks.
“This is his first year to start,” Lafayette defensive coordinator Eric Robertson said about Coleman. “He played in some backup roles last year as a sophomore.
“We had a defensive end (Demetri McIntosh) get hurt late in the championship game last year, and he (Coleman) came in there and finished that game out. He’s improved a lot and has gotten a lot better.”
And if you add inside linebacker Jamel Dennis in the mix – who once again leads the team in tackles (142) and also has 12 sacks – the ‘Dores can control the line of scrimmage against just about anyone.
“He’s started since his sophomore year and I think he’s led us in tackles all three years,” Robertson said of his senior linebacker. “He bumps out some (in certain schemes) and he just has a knack for getting to the football. He has good speed and he can cover some (in pass coverage).”