By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – The Lafayette High football team has had plenty of opportunities to celebrate.
The Commodores have scored 444 points in 10 games this season. More than 60 times this season, at least two Commodores celebrated in midair.
“Every time we score, we’ll just meet each other on the sidelines and show some love,” senior quarterback Jeremy Liggins said of the post-touchdown leaps.
The Daily Journal’s top-ranked team, winners of 26 straight dating back to last year, is 10-0 (4-0 in MHSAA’s Division 2-4A) entering tonight’s regular-season finale against North Pontotoc (9-1, 3-1).
The division title is not the only thing on the line tonight at Lafayette High School. The ’Dores have a 19-game winning streak at home.
Last season, the ’Dores became the first MHSAA team to finish a season 16-0. This season, they’re certainly capable of duplicating that feat.
With that being said, this year’s Lafayette squad is even more dangerous.
“I would say that’s what separates this year’s team from the years before: we got weapons everywhere,” Liggins said. “It’s not all on Demarkous (Dennis) and me.
“When our running game isn’t working, we can go out wide and throw it to our wide receivers. We can throw a quick slant and they can take it 80 yards.
“We just got weapons everywhere.”
For the second consecutive season, Liggins and Dennis have combined for more than three-fourths of Lafayette’s rushing yards.
Liggins, who stands 6-4, 270, grinds out yards. He’s rushed for 480 yards and 11 touchdowns on 91 carries this year.
That’s 5.3 yards a pop for the player being recruited by Alabama, LSU, Mississippi State and Ole Miss, among others.
Dennis, meanwhile, is a shifty, explosive back that a defense has to be 100 percent sure he is down or out of bounds or he’ll gain even more yards.
The 5-foot-10, 198-pound back has enough balance to keep going after being hit by multiple defenders.
“It’s just natural,” he said. “I usually look at the NFL players on TV – Walter Payton and all – and the highlights of them. I just picked it up from them.”
So far, the 2,000-yard rusher from a year ago has gained 1,568 yards on just 170 carries (9.2 yards per carry). He’s scored 22 times on the ground, once on a kickoff return and once more off a Liggins throw.
He’s being recruited by Ole Miss and Alabama.
Both Liggins and Dennis will represent Mississippi in December’s Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game.
Nonetheless, the simplest of offenses, in terms of overall scheme and play-calling, has at least five playmakers not named Dennis or Liggins.
Slot receiver/running back D.K. Buford was the first freshman to start under head coach Anthony Hart at Lafayette. Buford, who’s in his sophomore season, can flat out fly.
After pulling tires one day, Buford ran a 40-yard dash in about 4.4 seconds.
Another athletic receiver for the Commodores is junior Brandon Mack, who played on the same pee-wee team as Dennis. As a cornerback, Mack has four picks.
“We got a lot of weapons,” said Mack, who backs up Liggins at quarterback. “We can run the ball with either Demarkous or Jeremy or we can air it out.
“Either way it goes, we have a successful offense.”
NORTH PONTOTOC AT LAFAYETTE
THE BUZZ: Lafayette (10-0, 4-0), No. 1 in the Journal’s large school rankings, defeated Senatobia 48-8 last week in 2-4A play. … North Pontotoc (9-1, 3-1) beat Lewisburg 38-14 in league action. … Tonight’s winner will be the division champion. … As a team, Lafayette has rushed for 2,593 yards and thrown for 1,082. … The Commodores have only surrendered 105 points this season. … North Pontotoc is averaging 261 yards rushing, 160.9 yards passing and 39.7 points per game. … Vikings RB Mitchell Cunningham has rushed for 1,613 yards and 24 TDs on 151 carries. He’s averaging 10.68 yards per carry