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No change in routine at Lafayette
By Jason Jordan | email@example.com
Go ahead and try, but you won’t get Lafayette High football coach Paul Wheeler to break his practice routine.
Facing a dynamic, dual-threat quarterback who passed for 500 yards last week? The Rams won’t even mention his team’s name during that week of practice.
Facing the best running-show on turf, which piles on the yards by the hundreds? The Rams won’t make the slightest adjustment in the way they prepare.
"Not at all," Wheeler said.
The Rams (4-0, 3-0) hope to keep with their routine of winning at 7:30 p.m. Friday when they head over to Bailey Field to face the No. 1 rushing team in the district, Tabb (4-0, 3-0). In the end, one team will have its first loss of the season and one will claim the district’s No. 1 spot.
"Probably for the last 10 years I’ve conducted the same practice routine," Wheeler said. "We don’t change anything. That’s just the way we are."
Not even for the Tigers who put up 1,187 rushing yards through their first four games. Corey Legister and Meltoya Jones make up 993 of that. The Tigers are also putting up a district-best 42.3 points per game.
"We’ve got to tackle better against them," Wheeler said. "See a great football team like Tabb makes you have to execute those fundamentals. Tackling is back to first day stuff, and so we just worry about ourselves. We’re not good enough to worry about who we’re playing. We start doing that, and we won’t have a chance."
Jamestown almost knocked off Lafayette last week, but the Rams pulled out a 7-6 win.
In that game, Rams’ running back Garrick Piggott, responsible for nearly 100 rushing yards per game, and backup quarterback Nate Kepa served a one-game suspension due to "a coaches’ and athletic department decision."
Both will play this week.
Smithfield came closest to beating Lafayette at full strength.
Down 16-13 with just over a minute left in the game, the Packers had the ball on the Lafayette 1-yard line. After a false start backed Smithfield up to the 6-yard line, Lafayette held strong and T.J. Ptachick came up with the game-saving interception.
Packers’ coach Chris Fraser said that the Rams’ defense is so strong because the coaching staff keeps them well prepared.
"When you’re playing Lafayette you better do your homework because they are doing theirs," Fraser said. "In their preparation they are going to take something away from you, and it’s usually your bread and butter. So you better have a plan B."
Courtland coach J.C. Hall got shutout, 10-0, by the Rams in their season opener.
Coming into this season the Cougars were widely regarded as the class of the region, but Lafayette held the Cougars to just 102 yards of offense and five first downs.
"They’re the type of team that is always in the right place defensively," Hall said. "In my opinion they don’t have any glaring weaknesses on defense and No. 18 (Tommy Dover) and No. 82 (William Hill) are real tough on the line. They’re at least solid everywhere defensively."
The stats say they’re exceptional.
So far this season the Rams post the No. 2 rush defense in the district, allowing just 121 yards per game. They only give up 10 points per game.
Tabb coach Matt Lawson contends that the Rams will be the Tigers’ toughest defensive test this season.
"Our offense against their defense will be a challenge for us, there’s no question," Lawson said. "We’re going to have to step up, but we’ll prepare the same way. The thing about Lafayette is that their coaching staff does a really great job of taking the kids that they have and teaching them techniques. Those kids are fundamentally sound."
Wheeler said that’s because, after instilling the need to get better daily in his players, it’s become a competition to see if they can practice better everyday.
"Our players know that we can’t stay the same, and they really try to get better everyday," Wheeler said. "Really, we’re not even close to being as fundamentally sound as we need to be. We’re in the fifth week and that’s all this game is for us."