LaFayette (1-7, 1-3) at
Northwest Whitfield (7-1, 3-1)
While the Bruins are locked into Sub-region 7B-4A’s No. 2 seed and will play at Pickens next week with a spot in the state playoffs on the line, coach Josh Robinson said his team must remain focused on their goals this week.
“We have to keep pressing on and do what we can do,” Robinson said. “We have to prepare for the playoffs from here on out, and we have a chance to attain a goal of ours to tie and maybe play a game to break the record for wins in a season here at Northwest, which is nine.
“We have a chance to reach that in the regular season, and to get to that we can’t afford to overlook an improving LaFayette team, especially with them coming off of their big win over Ridgeland.”
LaFayette — in its first year under the direction of coach Chad Fisher — snapped an 11-game losing streak last week against the Panthers, who played for the Class 4A state title last season. Northwest has won nine games in a season three times, finishing 9-2 under Ron Wheeler in 2000 and 9-3 in 2004 and 2007 under Mike Falleur. The Bruins have never finished a season with double-digit victories.
While Northwest has certain team goals to look forward to, there are also some individual goals within reach. Running back Jacob Webb needs 167 yards to reach the 1,000-yard plateau, while quarterback Caleb Shiflett needs just 68 yards passing to eclipse the 1,500-yard mark.
But defense will be key for both Northwest and LaFayette with the teams employing spread offenses. While LaFayette has been more of a running team out of the package, the Ramblers proved they can throw the ball effectively as senior quarterback Lance Estus completed 23 of 39 passes for 235 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the win over Ridgeland.
“They have improved so much in a short time under coach Fisher,” Robinson said. “We saw them on film when they played River Ridge (in the third game of the season) and you could see they were struggling with a new coach and a new system. They played very solid and were very efficient on offense against Ridgeland. That is a scary thing for us that they are putting it all together the right time to play us.”
Compiled by sports writers Devin Golden and Chris Whitfield and correspondent Dave Gordon.