Last Tuesday at Frederick Douglass’ first football practice after three days off, offensive line coach Nate McPeek noticed that some players on his unit were going half-speed.
The big man interrupted the drill, and his voice boomed across the field: “Come on guys, I know this is a bye week and we can get lost in outer space at times, but this is important,” he said. “It’s what we’re gonna do against the Generals, so pay attention!”
One could understand why some of the Broncos might have lacked focus. Four days earlier Douglass announced its arrival on the central Kentucky football scene with a 49-22 dismantling of Tates Creek for the first win in program history. Now, after coming down from that emotional high, they were headed into a bye week, a stretch on the schedule when football teams at all levels often struggle to maintain a high degree of intensity.
“It’s especially true with high school kids, but even in college you have that problem,” Douglass head coach Brian Landis said. “You hit a bye week and all of a sudden the players relax. But it’s your job as a coach to make sure that they don’t relax. So we’ve got to be extra tough on them the next couple of weeks to make sure they’re ready for a big game.”
The Broncos can’t afford to wait too long before ratcheting up the intensity. As McPeek pointed out to his offensive linemen, a date with Lafayette looms Friday. Over the last several years the Generals have established themselves as a powerhouse program and have become top dog in the city among Lexington’s public schools. Douglass has been on a roller coaster ride the first two weeks of the season, having been pounded 36-0 by Class 2A juggernaut Danville in the opener before righting the ship against the Commodores. Friday’s tilt with Lafayette will help Landis determine how far along his fledgling team has truly come in its early development.
“We’ve got a tough, tough opponent coming up,” Landis said of the Generals. “They’re very physical and they’re tough to beat on their home field. We’ve got to step up to the plate and be more physical than them to have a chance and that’s a tall order. But it’s a great opportunity to see where we are as a football team.”
So far, it looks like the Broncos can rely on at least a couple of things: Their passing game appears dangerous and their defensive front looks stingy. Douglass held Tates Creek to just 31 rushing yards and quarterback Montaveon Bean established a rapport with his receivers against the Commodores, passing for 225 yards and three touchdowns while avoiding a turnover.
Micah Lowe, a transfer from Bryan Station, caught one of those scoring strikes for the first receiving touchdown in program history. The junior said the win against the Commodores lifted a huge weight off the Broncos’ shoulders.
“The locker room was so hype after the game,” Lowe said. “Everyone was just happy to get that first win out of the way. Now you don’t have to worry about that anymore and you can just go out and play football the way you know how and try to stack up one win after another.”
So how does Lowe rate the Broncos’ chances of knocking off Lafayette for the team’s first two-game win streak?
“We’re gonna be ready and I can tell you this, we won’t play intimidated,” he said. “I have faith in my brothers. They come out here and go to war with me and work hard, so I’m confident we’ll be ready no matter who’s lined up across from us.”
Defensive lineman Dayton LeBlanc was in the midst of a star-turning performance against Tates Creek before an ankle injury sent him to the locker room in the fourth quarter.
The senior transfer from Texas and son of University of Kentucky defensive line coach Derrick LeBlanc notched nine tackles, including three for loss and a sack, before he was knocked out of the game. He was on the sideline in street clothes tossing footballs with teammates during practice last Tuesday but didn’t take part in any drills. Landis said LeBlanc would be back in pads next week and will be good to go against the Generals on Friday.
“He just got rolled up on and it looks like a minor sprain. He plays a lot of snaps so he needs a week off,” Landis said. “I’m in no hurry to rush him back, I know exactly what he can do. He’ll be back against Lafayette. He wants that one bad, trust me.”
Frederick Douglass at Lafayette
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Records: Douglass (1-1); Lafayette (1-1)