By Andrew Owens
The Lafayette Commodores football team will look to its seasoned veterans this season to lead the team.
The Commodores return a total of 14 starters. Leadership and experience will be what the Commodores lean on as they look to make a deep playoff run in class 5A. Lafayette begins their season at home against Tupelo on Aug. 27.
On the offensive side of the ball the Commodores return six starters including their quarterback Tyrus Williams. Along with Williams, the Commodores return three offensive linemen, their starting tailback, and their leading receiver Kylen Vaughn.
The team will be led by Williams who has started multiple years for the Commodores. Williams is a senior who has played in the big games and the tough environments through his time at Lafayette. The team will look to Williams to be the leader of the offense as he hopes to have his best season under center.
“(Williams) has been in some tough situations through the fire, and he’s been through some tough games and environments and he’s played well,” Lafayette head coach Michael Fair said. “We are expecting him to take that next step and get to the next level. He’s a good leader for us and we are excited about the athletic ability he brings to the team at the quarterback position.”
The Commodores will look to some new names to help support Vaughn and Williams in the passing game this year. The team has a young group who looks ready to take on the challenge led by Makyi Reed-Jones.
“(Reed-Jones) is a young receiver who is making a lot of plays for us this summer and he will be a sophomore,” Fair said. “ He’s really good, especially when the ball touches his hands. He’s got speed, he’s growing, and we are really excited about his future.”
While the Commodores return three starters on the offensive line this year, they will look to be much improved this season.
“We are expecting those guys to take another step and I think our offensive line will be greatly improved,” Fair said. “There is a lot of talent up there and a lot of hard working guys, so I am excited to watch those guys play.”
The Commodores return eight starters to a very experienced defensive unit this season. The defense will be tested early and often as they will face some of the best offensive teams in the state this season. The team will lean on its defense to make a difference in each game this season.
The defense will be led by Derrick Burgess Jr, Alex Jones, Mario Wilbourn, and Kylan Egerson.
“We got returning starters on all three levels of our defense that we feel good about,” Fair said. “We need those guys to change the game. To have the leadership those guys bring to the table, we are really excited about it because we have a really tough schedule with a lot of good offenses early on. They will be called upon to get some big stops for us. Those guys have been through some tough situations in the past, and I believe they can lean on that and get better for us.”
The Commodores will be searching for some young guys to fill some roles, especially at the outside linebacker position. The team has some young players ready to step up and be difference makers in those positions.
“We have a couple of outside linebackers with Desmond Burnett Jr and Martrell Wilbourn are young guys who we think could have special special years,” Fair said.
The Commodores hope to be much improved on the back end of the defense this year. The team returns key players and has been fortunate to add depth to that area of the team. Expect the Commodores to be much improved against the pass this season as they open up the season against Tupelo.
Lafayette Athletic Director Greg Lewis believes the community should look to be proud of the way this team represents the community and entire county. Lafayette County should look forward to watching a team that will work hard and put their best foot forward, according to Lewis
“Just how hard these guys work and how much time they put into this season,” Lewis said. “It starts right after the previous season finishes and people don’t realize how much work these guys put in.”