New Albany gets shot at knocking off top-ranked Commodores

By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal

In a rematch of a 2010 Class 4A quarterfinals game, New Albany will “try to pull off the biggest upset” by beating top-ranked Lafayette on the road tonight, Bulldog coach Ron Price said.
“It’s hard to find any weak spots in them,” Price said of the Commodores, who are riding a 24-game win streak dating back to last year. “I’ll definitely agree that they’re better this year and hands down the best team in the state of Mississippi.
“If there’s a better team than them, I’d hate to see them. They’re solid on offense, defense and special teams.”
Those comments are almost identical to the ones Price said after his New Albany club was whipped on its home field by the eventual state champion, 35-0, in last November’s quarterfinals.
“We definitely would have liked to have competed better than we did,” said the Bulldogs coach, whose team entered that game with a 13-0 mark. “We felt like we had a good football team. I’d hate to say that Lafayette was 35 points better than us.
“I hoped we’d have played our best game all year.”
Instead, the Bulldogs, ranked second at the time, turned the ball over four times.
Price said he and his staff still watched film of that playoff game in preparation for tonight’s Division 2-4A contest. Not to mention, they will have “a lot of new kids playing this Friday night that didn’t play last year,” he added.
While only one team enters tonight with an undefeated overall mark through the first eight weeks of 2011 – Lafayette, at 8-0 – both are currently 2-0 in the division.
“If we’re going to be competitive against them, we can’t cause problems for ourselves,” said Price, whose unranked club is 6-2 this season. “If we’re going to beat them, we gotta play a perfect game, and hopefully they’ll make some mistakes to give us a chance to win.”
let the good times roll
In becoming the first 16-0 team in MHSAA’s history, the 2010 ‘Dores outscored their opponents 622-124. Through eight games of the ’11 regular season, the ‘Dores hold a 346-84 advantage in points.
“When you look at the films that we have, nobody has been successful against them,” Price said. “They’re very good and ranked No. 1 for a reason.
“It’s hard to find anybody that has had success against them. I know the school out of Louisiana (Evangel Christian Academy) had a lot of success against them, but they had different weapons and it’s too hard to compare ourselves to those guys.”
Even though Price says his current team is completely different than last year’s, Commodores coach Anthony Hart is impressed with New Albany, referring to tonight’s contest as the toughest challenge his team will have had in the last couple of weeks.
“We’re impressed with New Albany,” Hart said. “They got some really good players. … They’re big and physical. They’re a good football team.”
And if the near flawless ‘Dores were due for a bad game, they apparently rid themselves of any lapses in their system during last Friday’s 43-6 win at Rosa Fort.
“We might have been slacking,” Hart said. “But we picked it up in the second half. We rebounded well.”
Standout QB Jeremy Liggins has recovered after some heavy bruising, says Hart, and will be back behind center as the starter, doing what he does best: running and throwing the football.
Liggins had 16 rushes for 76 yards and two scores while completing 5 of 8 passes for 130 yards and two TDs in the playoff win against New Albany.
john.wilbert@journalinc.com