Eric Shaw was his usual scintillating self in sparking Lafayette to a 34-19 season-opening victory over host Tates Creek Friday night.
The 5-foot-11 senior, picking up where he left off last season as a star on both sides of the ball, ran for 137 yards and three touchdowns, and was also a force on defense.
"In my opinion, Eric Shaw's the best football player in the state of Kentucky," said Tates Creek Coach Mike Harmon, who coached Shaw at Lafayette two years ago.
"He showed tonight he's a dominant player and complete game-changer.
"Hopefully UK or Louisville will take notice and come after him."
Shaw wasn't a one-man show against the Commodores, and he was more than happy to share the spotlight as the Generals beat the Creek for the fifth year in a row.
"I know I can count on my teammates," Shaw said. "We've got a bunch of guys besides me who can make plays."
Marlon Johnson contributed a 87-yard blur of a kickoff return for a TD.
Quarterback Brett Durbin and receiver Nathan Green hooked up on a 22-yard TD pass in the closing seconds of the first half that gave Lafayette the lead for good.
The Generals' veteran offensive line did its job, too.
"Having No. 23 (Shaw) makes you good, but having those other guys step up can make us pretty strong," Coach Rob Sayre said.
Lafayette's defense, led by Bubba Johnson, Shamon Brown, David Kenner, Trey Benson and Shaw, of course, delivered the knockout punch. It limited Tates Creek to minus yardage in the first 20 minutes of the second half.
"We really kind of got in a zone in the third quarter, kind of got our legs under us, figured out what we needed to do and really got after them," Sayre said.
Bubba Johnson, Marlon's younger brother, had seven solo tackles, a sack and an interception.
He was more than a little giddy after the game.
"We're the best thing in the city," he said. "We're defending (city and district) champs, and we're defending our stuff right here."
Tates Creek played Lafayette even through most of the first half. Martrell Berry's 17-yard TD pass to Jamison Hardin, and Damon Boggs' 38-yard punt return for a score forced a 13-13 tie.
But Lafayette got a big boost when Green made an acrobatic TD catch in the back of the end zone with 20 seconds left in the first half to give his team the lead for good.
"That was huge," Sayre said. "It was a nip-and-tuck game, but then (Durbin) steps up in the pocket, throws a great ball, and Green lays out and makes an unbelievable catch.
"That kind of got the ball rolling for us."
Durbin, who split time at QB with Matt Britt, completed eight of nine passes for 72 yards and a score.
For Tates Creek, junior Dee Christopher completed 15 of 29 passes and had two interceptions. He also ran for 43 yards. Jonathan Diliberto had five catches for 40 yards.
Harmon saw some good signs from this Commodores.
"We shot ourselves the foot a lot, but I thought we we did a lot of things better than last year," he said.
"We've just got to keep getting better."
Lafayette 6 14 7 7—34
Tates Creek 0 13 0 6—19
L—Eric Shaw 52 run (kick failed). TC—Jamison Hardin 17 pass from Martrell Berry (Myles Atkins kick). L—Marlon Johnson 87 kickoff return (Matt Green kick). TC—Damon Boggs 38 punt return (kick blocked). L—Nathan Green 22 pass from Brett Durbin (Green kick). L—Shaw 12 run (Green kick). L—Shaw 1 run (Green kick). TC—Tyler Love 1 run (run failed)
Records—Lafayette 1-0; Tates Creek 0-1