Lafayette embraces a life on the road

No home games in '09

mfields@herald-leader.comAugust 15, 2009 


    Coach: Rob Sayre (second year)

    Last year: 7-4 (lost to Simon Kenton 33-6 in first round of 6A playoffs)

    Top returnees: Eric Shaw Jr. (RB/WR/S); Joey Mashni (OL/DL); Burt Mingey (OL); Matt Britt (QB); Brett Durbin (QB); David Kenner (RB/LB); Cody Perkins (LB); Chris Poynter (OL); Stephen Harris (DL); Chad Miller (OL); Andrew Blancet (OL); Brian Wade (LB); Bruce Robinson (NG); Trey Benson (DE); Matt Green (PK).

    Key losses: Darnell Burnside (RB); Gary Demus (WR/S); Keenan Green (WR/DB); Jamel Sleet (RB/DB); Aaron Petty (RB/DB); James Mayes (DB); Erick Quezada (LB).

  • Generals' schedule

    Aug. 21At Tates Creek

    Aug. 29x-Boone County

    Sept. 4At Mercer County

    Sept. 11At Franklin County

    Sept. 18At Clark County

    Sept. 25At Henry Clay

    Oct. 2At Boyle County

    Oct. 9At Paul Dunbar

    Oct. 16y-Bryan Station

    Oct. 23At Scott County

    Note: All games 7:30 p.m. unless noted. Home games in capital letters.

    x-in Fayette County Bowl at Tates Creek, 6 p.m.; y-at Tates Creek

Lafayette's Ishmael Stadium, built in 1959, is due to be razed in the next few weeks to make room for a new artificial-turf facility that is supposed to be ready for the 2010 school year.

That means Lafayette will play all of its football games on the road this fall, but it doesn't mean the Generals won't feel at home.

Coach Rob Sayre said before the old stadium is leveled, he's going to get a scoop of dirt from the field, and his players will take some of it on the road with them.

"We're going to make every place we play our own," Sayre said. "We've told the kids this season is a great opportunity to make some memories."

Lafayette, led by the explosive Eric Shaw Jr. and an experienced line, should also make a run at repeating as district and city champs.

"We've got more senior leadership than in the past, and we've got a lot of hard workers," Shaw said. "Everybody is going to push each other to get the job done."

Shaw, an exceptional athlete, has lots of jobs. Last year he led the Generals in scoring (12 touchdowns), rushing (740 yards), punt returns, all-purpose yards (1,287), and tackles (43 solo). He was second in receiving (28 catches, 304 yards).

This season he'll take turns playing halfback, hybrid back, receiver, safety and kick returner. "He may never come off the field," Sayre said.

Shaw should find plenty of room to operate behind a veteran offensive line that includes 6-foot-8, 310-pound Burt Mingey, Joey Mashni, Andrew Blancet, Chad Miller and Chris Poynter.

The experienced O-line has made an impression on Sayre.

"They're already a cohesive group. Their communication is amazing," he said. "We didn't have to spend a lot of time teaching. We've been in the refining phase already."

Mashni isn't surprised.

"We've been working together the last four years, and a lot of us for the last eight years, so we know how each other plays. We're in sync."

Lafayette's quarterback will benefit from having such a strong front five.

Who will be that QB?

Junior Matt Britt and senior Brett Durbin are battling for the starting spot. They shared snaps last year before a shoulder injury sidelined Durbin midway through the season. Britt threw for 914 yards and nine TDs. Durbin had 220 yards and one score.

Running back duties will be split among Shaw, David Kenner and Shamon Brown.

The receiving corps is relatively inexperienced, but Sayre hopes Matt Zombek, Nick Fergerson and Joe Stephenson can fill the bill.

"They perform in practice, but everything changes when the lights come on," Sayre said. "These kids will have the opportunity to make plays. We'll see if they do."

The offense has another weapon in kicker Matt Green, a standout in summer camps.

Lafayette's defense will be anchored by returning nose guard Bruce Robinson, linemen Mashni, Stephen Harris, Trey Benson, and linebackers Kenner, Wade and Cody Perkins.

Shaw will be the patrolman at safety, "so people can't run away from him," Sayre said.

The Generals have a lot going for them, but their best asset may be their attitude.

"The atmosphere in the locker room is great," Sayre said. "The kids are pushing themselves harder than any team I've been around.

"They're all friends so they all get along. Plus they're big, strong and more confident."

And they're more comfortable with Sayre, who is in his second year as head coach after serving as an assistant to Mike Harmon before he left for Tates Creek.

"We've got a better relationship with the kids this year," Sayre said. "They don't see me as the offensive coordinator anymore. They see me as the head coach, and that helps."

Sayre certainly talks like a head coach.

Asked how it feels to have a team considered among the best in the city, he quoted Roy Walton, his coach at Tates Creek 20 years ago.

"I'm telling everyone we're just trying to make sure we get in a good stance, trying to snap the ball to the right person, trying to get first downs," Sayre said, a smile giving a hint to his optimism.

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