Lafayette embracing Saturday battle

By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal

One of the state’s top teams is taking its talents across state lines.
The Lafayette High Commodores, ranked No. 1 overall in the state in the Mississippi Public Broadcasting poll, will play Evangel Christian Academy on Saturday as part of “The Battle on the Border” high school football event in Shreveport, La.
“I think that will be good for us to go over there and play in it,” said an even-keeled Lafayette coach Anthony Hart.
Through the first three weeks of the regular season, Hart’s Lafayette club is 3-0 after beating Tupelo, Greenwood and Oxford by a combined 122-23.
The reason why they get to play in Saturday’s showcase in Louisiana is because they put together the first 16-0 season in MHSAA’s history in winning the Class 4A state championship last year.
“They’ve got us over there with teams from Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi,” Hart said. “I just want to go over there and have a good showing.”
The Commodores will take on Louisiana power Evangel Christian in the first game Saturday, set for 11 a.m. at Independence Stadium.
Marshall High School (Texas) will play Shreveport’s C.E. Byrd High School at 3 p.m. at the same site of AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl.
In the nightcap, West Monroe (La.) faces another Shreveport school in Calvary Baptist Academy.
“I’m real excited,” said Commodores senior running back Demarkus Dennis. “We get to go out of state on a trip. It’s not just me, but we’re all representing the state. We’ve got to act right, be respectful, and do what we gotta do. Act like Mississippians.”
Not a first
For many of the Commodores players, this isn’t their first trip outside of Mississippi to play a quality opponent. During Dennis’ sophomore season, the Commodores traveled to Fort Walton Beach, Fla., for a regular-season game.
They came away with a 14-7 victory over Fort Walton Beach, a signature win that can be viewed as the beginning of the Commodores’ ascension to greatness. There were an estimated 10,000 fans at that game in Florida.
The Commodores advanced to the Class 4A state title game in 2009 where they lost to Dylan Favre and the St. Stanislaus Rock-a-Chaws.
And even though Evangel Christian is designated as a Class 2A school in Louisiana, that doesn’t mean they can’t compete with the big boys.
Hart says the Eagles – who played on ESPNU against Union, Okla., Friday night and have won 13 state championships – are “very big” in terms of size, bigger than his own players.
“They got good team speed,” added the Lafayette coach. “But I think we can match up OK with them right there.”
Hart and his staff exchanged film with the Eagles on Saturday afternoon in Vicksburg. The Commodores were coming off a 40-12 thrashing of crosstown rival Oxford from the night before, while the Eagles lost a tough one at Oklahoma power Union High School, 21-0.
“They’ve only played one ballgame, but they are a very talented team,” said Hart, the coach of the Daily Journal’s top-ranked large school.
Contributing: Blake Long

Click video to hear audio