Lafayette senior football standout Eric Shaw Jr. has a lot of great memories of his four years with the Generals, including an undefeated regular season and a couple of district championships.
But he would just as soon forget about Lafayette's recent playoff history. The Generals have dropped six consecutive post-season games since their last victory in 2003.
A lopsided playoff loss to Simon Kenton last fall was especially painful for Shaw, who hurt his knee and watched most of the game propped up by crutches on the sidelines.
"That was just miserable," he said.
Shaw and his teammates can make amends when Lafayette visits 15th-ranked Henry Clay in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs Friday night. The Generals have beaten their longtime city rivals four of the last five times they've met, including a 12-9 upset in late September.
Whatever happens Friday night, Shaw figures to be in the middle of it because he'll be on the field more than anybody else. The 5-foot-11 180-pounder will split his time at running back, receiver, quarterback, free safety and kick returner.
Shaw cracked Lafayette's lineup as a freshman on defense and has been a two-way starter ever since.
He blossomed into a star last year when he had almost 1,300 all-purpose yards and led Lafayette in tackles.
He has increased his production this season, piling up 1,756 all-purpose yards and again leading the Generals in tackles. His senior-year numbers include 1,038 rushing yards, more than 200 yards receiving and more than 400 yards returning punts and kickoffs.
Lafayette Coach Rob Sayre said his strategy is simple:
"Put the ball in the hands of your best player and see what happens. For us, that's putting the ball in the hands of No. 23 (Shaw) and letting him make plays."
Shaw gives Lafayette the same kind of lift that Randall Cobb provides the University of Kentucky.
"That's a good comparison," Sayre said. "Eric does everything, and he does it with that same fire that Randall Cobb does.
"He inspires and fires up the team and tells them 'Yeah, we can do this!' And he shows them by the way he plays."
Tates Creek Coach Mike Harmon, who was at Lafayette for Shaw's first two years of high school, calls him "the best football player in the state of Kentucky. He's a dominant player and a complete game-changer."
Shaw plays so many different roles. So what's his primary position in his mind?
"I'm an athlete," he said. "I like them all. I like to hit, and I like to score touchdowns."
Shaw and his four brothers come by their talent naturally. Their dad, Eric Shaw Sr., was a high school star in Pensacola, Fla., who signed with Florida State before ending up at Louisiana Tech. He left college early, went to Canada to play pro ball and later played linebacker for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Oldest son Enrique was a star at Lafayette a few years ago before going to Michigan State. He had a knee injury as a sophomore and wound up transferring to Grand Valley State (in Michigan).
Enrico is a high school junior who plays basketball at Bluegrass Baptist. Evan is seventh-grade football player at Jessie Clark Middle School. Ean, 9, plays football in a parks and recreation league.
Eric Sr. said he and his wife, Angela, "cheer and give encouragement" to their sons, "but we also expect them to excel, even if they're playing marbles or tag in the back yard."
As for Eric Jr., dad says his second-oldest son "is very football savvy, but he's still learning. He's an athlete who's gotta find his niche."
Western Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky and Louisville have shown some interest in Shaw, but he's still waiting on a scholarship offer.
"I'm really upset that nobody's pulled the trigger on him yet," Sayre said. "Whoever does will get a steal for sure."