By David Wheeler
Special to the Journal
The big question facing the Tupelo Golden Wave in its season opener against visiting Lafayette is: Can the Commodores’ talented D.K. Buford be contained?
Buford, an Ole Miss commitment, scored 16 touchdowns and had 1,448 all-purpose yards last season.
“He’s just so fast,” Tupelo first-year coach Trent Hammond said of Buford. “It’s not every day you have to scheme for a player that will be playing on Saturdays next year.”
Tupelo kicks off its season at 7 p.m. today, hosting Lafayette. The Golden Wave then plays four consecutive road games before returning home Oct. 4 to host Grenada in a Division 1-6A game.
Hammond is also interested in seeing his new team performs under the lights.
“The kids have worked really hard,” he said. “Now I want to see all of what they can do.”
Hammond got a glimpse of what Tupelo could do last week in a controlled scrimmage against Itawamba AHS. There, sophomore quarterback Daniel Bristow threw a 62-yard touchdown to Rodney McIntosh, while Justin Clifton had an interception return for a touchdown.
“We had things to get better at and the kids have listened to things from the scrimmage and worked to get better,” said Hammond, who takes over a program that was 4-7 last season. “Lafayette is big and fast and their offensive line is humongous.
“And, they have the fastest player in the state.”
That player, Buford, could line up at any of three positions for the Commodores – running back, wide receiver and quarterback.
“We need to do a good job getting him the ball in space,” Lafayette coach Eric Robertson said.
Besides Buford, Robertson points out the potential assets of quarterback Devin Thomas, and running back Tyrell Price. Robertson is also quick to point out that Tupelo could be hard to prepare for.
“You do not know how much of the offense has been installed,” Robertson said. “Their depth is an advantage, but there is just some uncertainty about Tupelo.
“I know they have some good athletes.”
Lafayette was 10-3 last season.