Commodores finish off productive spring
Eric Robertson’s goals for his Lafayette Commodores heading into the spring were met on the field during 13 practices and a spring football jamboree.
Lafayette’s head coach liked where his offense was heading into the summer work despite three starters being out due to baseball, or injury.
“We got a lot of work, a lot of plays in. That’s what we wanted to do. We scrimmaged all three teams, so all of our kids, our ones, twos and threes, all got valuable reps,” Robertson said. “We’re evaluating now, but I thought everything went very well. I thought all three teams (North Panola, Madison-Ridgeland Academy and Lake Cormorant) that were there, I think they were pleased with everything.We normally get 12 practices in counting the spring game, so it was a productive spring. I thought everything went as well as it could have.”
Center Austin Arrington and Devon Thomas, Lafayette’s starting quarterback in 2013, were both playing baseball this spring and didn’t take part in drills. Eli Johnson, an Ole Miss commit for 2016, was also out, recovering from a torn ACL suffered in last year’s MHSAA Class 4A state title game. In for Arrington at center this spring was Matt Toles, who Robertson said did a great job.
“I think he is one who is definitely going to play for us on the offensive line somewhere. I thought our overall offensive line did really well,” Robertson said. “Tyler Williams, a rising sophomore, did a great job for us at quarterback. I thought he handled things really well. He didn’t look rattled at all. He ran the ball well and made some really good throws. I was really impressed with him.”
The Commodores have always been able to move the ball on the ground with their bevy of running backs and last year, they had another 1,000-yard rusher in Tyrell Price.
“Running back wise, Tyrell was solid as we expected. Tavon Joiner really had some big runs for us throughout the scrimmage which was good to see. He battled injuries all season last year,” Robertson said. “Then Tay Tay Owens looked really impressive for us back there. Rashun Rockette broke a few runs for us as well. I’m pleased with that area. The receivers had a few drops but they caught the ball well overall.”
Lafayette advanced to Jackson in large part to a stout defense that included several veterans. The defense has some holes to fill heading into 2014, but Robertson felt like it was encouraging that the offense was ahead of the pace.
“Defensively we’re still searching. We’re searching for some defensive backs and trying to get that situated. Everybody did compete hard, but we did have a few break downs,” Robertson said. “It is encouraging to have the offense be ahead and know and we’ve still got guys coming back with Austin and Devon and Eli not playing. It’s encouraging because of the depth we were able to build on that side of the ball and to still have more coming.”
From a defensive standpoint, an area that made Robertson feel better was the effort his unit gave.
“We did run to the football, hard, and we played really well at times. We got a little tired. The way the scrimmage is set up, you can get tired and when we had our breakdowns is when we got tired,” Robertson said. “We talked as a coaching staff after the scrimmage about them running to the ball. If we’ve got them running to the football, there are things we can teach them to be where they’re supposed to be on reads and keys and things. The one thing we got from the spring was we pretty much know where to put the kids at on defense. Now we can start fine tuning some things with 7-on-7 and of course fall camp.
“Overall I thought the spring was very productive. I’m looking forward to getting started in the fall knowing where everybody is going to be.”
Before fall camp begins, the Commodores will hit the weights, and take part in 7-on-7 drills each week.
“Our kids show up in the weight room and they work extremely hard while we’re here. We’ll continue to get stronger throughout the summer,” Robertson said. “We’re going to put a little more emphasis on conditioning this year than we have in the past just because we have more than a few kids going both ways and things like that. I expect a big summer and our kids have always showed up ready to compete in the summer.”