Bulldogs can’t hold down high scoring Randolph County, 49-12

Junior quarterback JaTarvious Whitlow collects eight yards before being brought down by a Tiger defender

Junior quarterback JaTarvious Whitlow collects eight
yards before being brought down by a Tiger defender

Donnell Suggs
Sports Editor

There’s a reason why the Randolph County High School Tigers were 6-0 coming into Bulldog Stadium on Friday night. There are a few more reasons why they walked out of it and onto two team buses with a record of 7-0 three hours later having defeated host LaFayette High School by 37 points, 49-12. First place in Class 2A Region 5 or at least a piece of it was up for grabs and the Tigers decided very early in the game that they didn’t want to relinquish it. The contest brought out much more media than is usually present at Bulldogs Stadium. A local television channel camera man shuffled the sidelines filming game footage while three members of the 102.3 The Eagle’s sports team along with local print media (your’s truly included) roamed the sidelines. This was a big game by all meanings of the phrase. And then it wasn’t.

Much of what was the Bulldogs worse loss of the season came on the strength of Tiger senior running back Reco Hannah. The 6’2”, 200lb running back and outside linebacker amassed 294 yards rushing on only 23 carries. To be more blunt: He outgained the entire Bulldog offense. The onslaught started early as Hannah scored the first two of his five touchdowns on the evening during the first quarter to give the Tigers a 14-0 lead at the conclusion of the period. As they have done all season long, LaFayette falls behind before closing the gap. Tonight was not one of those nights but it looked like it would be after junior quarterback JaTarvious Whitlow scored on run from 20 yards out. An unsuccessful two-point conversion-the Tigers hit on all seven of their extra point attempts-made the score 14-6.

Bulldog offense huddles during a break in the 2nd quarter Photo (Donnell Suggs)

Bulldog offense huddles during a break in the 2nd quarter Photo (Donnell Suggs)

The Bulldogs wouldn’t score again until the 5:17 mark of the third quarter. In the meantime Randolph County would take a 28-6 advantage into halftime and would score two more touchdowns-both by Hannah-during the third quarter. With the scoreboard reading 35-12 in the visitor’s favor Bulldog sophomore running back Robert Houston, Jr. fought off three would-be tacklers to score from five yards. Whitlow’s 56 yard run set up that Bulldogs final score. The Tigers would score for the final time with 2:05 remaining in the game courtesy of a short run by freshman running back Trent Lane. Tiger senior quarterback John Mark Prestridge who was steady the entire night, went 10 for 20 for 122 yards with an interception and a touchdown pass to sophomore receiver (and backup quarterback) Brody Wortham.

Special note has to be made for the way the LaFayette High School band and dance team not only entertained the near capacity crowd at halftime but also for the way they kept up a high level of musical and performance energy despite the score. If the game wasn’t a lot of fun to watch the band surely was.

Seniors Walter Dukes, DeVantae King and Takeo Higgins lead the team with eight tackles each, respectively. Free safety Quentin Ray, also a senior, had six tackles and an interception. Whitlow finished the game with a season low 91 passing yards while completing 7 of 16 passes with an interception (his sixth of the season against eight touchdown passes). He also ran for 144 yards. Houston, Jr. had a team high 66 yards rushing on 15 carries. Sophomore JaMarquez Boston-Gaines’ team high 79 yards receiving came from three catches.

The Bulldogs next face neighbor and rival Lanett on Friday, October 16. The Panthers defeated Loachapoka on Friday night, 40-12, and are undefeated at home (4-0) but winless on the road (0-4). LaFayette needs a win to solidify a playoff spot as well as to keep pace (though it may be too late) with first place Randolph County and second place Ranburne (who beat the Bulldogs at Bulldog Stadium three weeks ago) in the standings.

Follow The Lafayette Sun on Facebook and Twitter (@lsunnews) and Sports Editor Donnell Suggs on Twitter (@suggswriter)

Ed Vines has been announcing Bulldogs football for 33 years

Donnell Suggs
Sports Editor

The announcements come over the loudspeakers at Bulldog Stadium as clear as they do from the pulpit at Whitehall Baptist Church on Marcoot Road in LaFayette. The man behind that voice is Reverend Ed Vines and his 33 years of experience announcing football games becomes clear from the moment he says “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Bulldog Stadium.” Mr. Vines, a LaFayette High School Class of 1982 alumnus, makes every game feel like it’s the most important in the state. “I try to keep the fans in attendance motivated,” says Vines.

The start of Vines’ career as a football announcer came to him by a sort of divine intervention when at the homecoming game during his senior year he was pulled from the crowd by that night’s announcer and asked to say a few things. Since then he has always found himself with a microphone in his hand and a football game below his gaze as he sits in the press box above the field at Bulldog Stadium.

That moment lead to a few opportunities while in college at Southern Union and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (Class of ‘86). Vines believes his passion for announcing games has done a lot more than just make him the voice of Bulldog football. “It’s a gift from God that helps prepare me for my ministry and public speaking,” says Vines. A father and husband of two-the oldest son Jeremy is currently a sophomore at Alabama State University and the youngest daughter, Miciah is presently a sophomore at LaFayette High-Vines takes pride in both of his careers. “The love for my school and my community keeps me doing what I do,” says the preacher.

Either at Whitehall Baptist or at Bulldog Stadium Mr. Vines is another prime example of the good that comes from following your passions and ultimately enjoying what you do. Preaching the word of God on a Sunday morning and sending football tinged sound waves throughout the stadium on a Friday night seems to have been good to Vines and his family. During the offseason he also manages the clock at basketball games. “I want to help any way I can,” said Vines during halftime of the LaFayette/Randolph County game on Friday night. Despite the score he kept a smile on his face and an upbeat tone to his voice. The man clearly loves his job.

Mr. Vines’ services won’t be necessary next week when the Bulldogs travel to Lanett but if all things work out the way they have thus far this season we all will get to hear his smooth sounding voice over the Bulldog Stadium loudspeakers a few more times this season. Lucky us.

Follow The LaFayette Sun and Sports Editor Donnell Suggs on Twitter @lsunnews and @suggswriter

Senior Watch: DeVantae King-LaFayette High School Linebacker

Senior WatchDonnell Suggs
Sports Editor

Last Friday was a tough one for all concerned at LaFayette High School’s Bulldog Stadium. The home team had just lost to the Randolph County Tigers by a few touchdowns and were walking off the field to their locker room. A lot of Bulldog players had their heads down understandably, but outside linebacker DeVantae King didn’t have any reason to though. The 17 year old senior finished the game with eight tackles while making his presence felt all over the field. The game of football turns the relaxed King into another young man entirely. “I just like being on the field, says King. It feels like home.” Though he also plays for the Bulldog basketball team, King says he likes football better and is savoring every game of his senior year before his high school football career ends this winter. “I’m going to miss these guys a lot, I like playing with my team,” said King.

DeVantae King’s influences range from his mother Makeshia Griffin and father Drexel King to his football coach James Lucas and science teacher Travis Smith who’s also the Bulldog JV football head coach and assistant basketball coach. All of those role models bring different things to the table for King to take out into the world with him following high schooll graduation. King plans on attending either Samford University in Birmingham or Faulkner University in Montgomery to study engineering. On his favorite classes, Mr. Smith’s Anatomy, Chemistry, Environmental Science and Earth Science courses: “He tries to teach us on a college level and uses his experience to get us ready for the next level academically.”

On Coach Lucas: “He’s a cool guy and he’s going to tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.” The kid even enjoys football practice. “Practice is live, says King. It’s fun because we conduct practice as it it were an actual game.” Thus putting into practice the old saying that ‘always ready never needs to get ready’. Similar to his basketball idol, Los Angeles Clipper point guard and multiple time all-star Chris Paul, as one of the team’s leaders King has to be prepared for whatever moments a game can put him and his teammates in.

The Alabama football fan has been having a career year thus far this season racking up 47 tackles in seven starts with two of those tackles being for loss. His goals are the same as the team’s goals this season: to make the playoffs. So far King’s senior football season is looking to be going according to plan. And unlike like his favorite professional football player, New York Jet cornerback Darrelle Revis, King doesn’t have to be an island of his own in order to make those goals happen. He just has to go out every game and continue to be the player that he is.

When this season is all said and done King may miss his teammates and the feelings he gets whenever he steps cleats on the football field but the future engineer-“I’d like to work for Apple one day”-will be just fine walking with his head held high.

Follow Sports Editor Donnell Suggs on Twitter @suggswriter

Woodland no match for improving Bulldogs,44-21

Another region win for the dogs - The Bulldogs are now 5-1 as they celebrate their big win last Friday night over the Woodland Bobcats. Photo (Sheila Still)

Another region win for the dogs – The Bulldogs are now 5-1 as they celebrate
their big win last Friday night over the Woodland Bobcats. Photo (Sheila Still)

Donnell Suggs
Sports Editor

Who would have thought that the LaFayette High School Bulldogs varsity football team would be coming into the second week of October with a 5-1 record? Answer: Nobody with the exception of head football coach and Athletic Director James Lucas. Lucas and his staff have been teaching patience and fundamentals to their players all season and the results are quite clear. What once was a 1-9 team is now a candidate for first place in the region after defeating Woodland High on the road 44-21 on Friday night.

“[They] focussed on each and every play and that was the key to winning the game,” said Lucas. The fact that the Bulldogs traveled to Woodland to play the 1-5 Bobcats didn’t hurt either.

The Bulldogs were up 22-7 at the half and by 23 points after three quarters. A large chunk of that lead has to do with the performance of Bulldog quarterback JaTarvious Whitlow. The junior had a game high 176 yards rushing, the longest being a 98 yard scramble for a score. His passing game-a work in progress while his greatest gifts at the moment remain his feet and natural instincts-was solid as well. Whitlow went 6-12 through the air for 127 yards-his longest being 51 yards-with a touchdown. Sophomore running back Robert Houston, Jr. contributed 76 yards on nine carries before coming out of the game in order to get some reserves on the field. “We started out fast and played with intensity,” said Lucas. That gave us a chance to get some reserves some playing time.” Two of those reserves were sophomores Lajareion Bryant and Marcharia Walton who both recorded a tackle during the contest. Another of those reserves was Eluntavious Foster, the 5’5” junior receiver/back gained five yards on a carry.

The Bulldogs failed to give up more than eight points during any quarter of the game and that was due to the LaFayette senior laden defensive unit. Senior Inside linebacker Walter Dukes led the way with 14 solo tackles while fellow seniors Devantae King and Takeo Higgins contributed nine tackles each. King had an interception and a fumble recovery while Higgins (our SENIOR WATCH selection this week) also recovered a Bobcat fumble. Quentin Ray, a senior free safety contributed an interception in addition to four tackles while another senior, Shanethesis Williams had six tackles.

Woodland seniors Tyler Gay and Clay Gray both had solid games in defeat. Gay, a running back, ran for a team high 74 yards on 12 carries while quarterback Clay Gray rushed for 48 yards while completing 10 of 20 passes for 104 yards.

The Bulldogs will have to take all of the good mojo from the Woodland game into Friday nights game against the Randolph County Tigers at Bulldog Stadium. The Tigers are not only undefeated at 6-0 but are also up a half a game in the Class 2A Region 5 standings after having only played in three regional games thus far this season while LaFayette has played in four (with a loss to Ranburne). A win on Friday will not get that half game back but it will put the Bulldogs in first place in the regional standings no matter what Ranburne does at Horseshoe Bend on Friday night (with the tie breaker remaining in Ranburne’s favor). The Bulldogs were penalized eight times for 100 yards against the Bobcats despite their dominance. Somehow the Bobcats also more than tripled the Bulldogs first downs (15-4). Those things cannot happen on Friday night if the Bulldogs are going to grab a hold of first place.

October 7, 2015 | Posted in: News, Sports | Comments Closed

Rebels fall to Pike 42-41

Rebels feel the pressure CA quarterback Malik Lyons, pictured right runs past Pike’s defensive pressure during their game last Friday night. Photo (KennyMoss/OANews

Rebels feel the pressure
CA quarterback Malik Lyons,
pictured right runs past Pike’s
defensive pressure during their
game last Friday night.
Photo (KennyMoss/OANews

Donnell Suggs
Sports Editor

There are certain decisions in a man’s life that he’s going to have to live with no matter the outcome. Chambers Academy head football coach and Athletic Director Jason Allen is going to live with the one he made on Friday night in Troy, Alabama as his team sat on the Patriots five yard line following a Rebel touchdown. With the score 42-41 and his team down by a single point, Coach Allen decided to roll the dice and go for two points and the victory. “The game came down to the two-point conversion and we felt like that was our best chance to win the game,” said Allen. The attempt failed to convert itself into points and the Patriots defended their home turf. In sports as in life there are no “moral victories” but the fact that Pike had won their two previous games by 38 and 56, respectively, shows how well Chambers Academy’s football team is playing these days. No opponent is safe and no risk too hard to take.

Up by 14 points after the first quarter and by seven points at halftime-21-14-the momentum quickly shifted after both teams scored two touchdowns during the third quarter leaving the Patriots still down by seven. The home team would snatch the lead for the first time during the fourth quarter outscoring the Rebels 14-6. The victory left Pike Liberal Arts with a 4-2 overall record and their third consecutive win. The Rebels-also 4-2-will have a great life lesson to carry with them for the entirety of the football season. “There were some disappointed guys in that locker room but they understand all of our goals,” said Allen. Some of those guys he was speaking of had spectacular games in particular quarterback Malik Lyons. Lyons, a junior, connected on four of his seven pass attempts while rushing for 181 and two touchdowns. He also threw a touchdown pass to senior running back Christian Gillespie (144 yards rushing with a touchdown) and scored via a punt return. There’s no doubt that Lyons experienced a high and low along with this loss.

There may be another opportunity to put that experience to work this Friday on the road against Crenshaw Christian Academy in Luverne. The Cougars will have to try hard to be the teacher of said lesson after having lost their four previous games by 20 or more points. Despite their 2-5 record, Coach Allen knows how important this game is for the overall playoff picture.

“This game is really big if we hope to host a playoff game,” said Allen. With four regular season games remaining there is no time to take any team for granted, win or lose the Rebels are learning valuable lessons every step of the way. Coach Allen, the assistant coaches and the Rebel players can all live with that.

4th quarter heroics lead Bulldogs to homecoming win

LHS Bull DogsDonnell Suggs
Sports Editor

Bulldog head coach James Lucas took a few steps near the sidelines at Bulldog Stadium as his defensive unit was coming off the field following another Wadley touchdown. The score was now 20-6 early in the 4th quarter and LaFayette was once again behind with their backs against the wall. “We’re going to win this ball game,” Lucas yelled to his special teams unit as they ran onto the wet field to receive the kick-off. That statement could have been to the crowd in the stands as well. It had been raining off and on the entire night but that didn’t stop what looked like a record Homecoming crowd to fill the stands and with a few lessons about staying the entire game learned earlier this season, they would stay patient and in their seats throughout the contest. It was Homecoming Week after all and it looked like the entire town was in attendance. What better time than then for another comeback?

The Home team-both clubs were nicknamed Bulldogs for the second week in a row-would come all the way back to indeed win the game, 22-20, like their coach predicted. The rollercoaster ride that is the 2015 season continuing as LaFayette scored 16 unanswered points to beat the previously undefeated Wadley Bulldogs. The final score by Wadley came on a four yard run by quarterback Coby Nunn that also resulted in an injury to the sophomore at the end of that play. That would come back to haunt Wadley late in the game as LaFayette marched down the field on their ensuing possession to score on a 42 yard run by running back Robert Houston, Jr. preceded by consecutive completions by quarterback JaTarvious Whitlow. Houston, Jr. finished the game with 78 yards rushing on nine carries, that touchdown run being the most important because it cut Wadley’s lead to 20-14 after Whitlow completed a miraculous two-point conversion by running back upfield for ten yards before juking a number of Wadley defenders to score. Whitlow had a team high 115 rushing yards on 14 carries along with 130 yards passing none more important than his touchdown pass to sophomore receiver JaMaquez Boston-Gaines with 1:29 to play in the game to even the score at 20. Boston-Gaines caught five balls for 80 yards to lead all Bulldog receivers. Whitlow’s second consecutive successful two-point conversion-on a quarterback sneak and dive into the end zone-ultimately gave the gold and black Bulldogs the victory. “We really needed that win and by us coming back to win it helped the team and the coaches understand how important they all really are to this program,” said Lucas.

With a little over a minute to play in the game Wadley started their final possession in their own territory. During the previous three quarters behind the excellent play of Nuun and senior fullback Kamaury Avery Wadley, the visitors moved the ball all over the field. The LaFayette defensive unit-lead by seniors Takeo Higgins, Walter Dukes, DeVantae King and Matthew Cartwright-had a number of huge defensive stands late in the game that lead to the victory. The most important of which came with 1:22 remaining in the game when sophomore backup quarterback Connor Fordham-the coach’s son-came into the game with Wadley down by two. The LaFayette defense did what it has done all season long, it handed out another fourth down stop. Sophomore Omar Boston lead the way with 10 tackles, seniors King and Dukes both had eight and Higgins with six.

The Bulldogs will leave the friendly confines of Bulldog Stadium on Friday, October 2 and will travel to play Woodland High School. The Bobcats are 1-4 this season are coming off of a 26-12 loss to Loachapoka.

Rebels rush past Springwood for 52-32 victory

Chambers Acadamey FootballDonnell Suggs
Sports Editor

The Chambers Academy Rebels are on a roll following their 52-32 win over Springwood School on Friday night. A season high 505 yards rushing lead to the dominant performance, the 22 yards passing however was the team’s lowest in the past three weeks. The Rebels went back to what had been their bread and butter and the results were quite impressive. “This was a great win for our kids and our program,” said head coach and Athletic Director Jason Allen. Now 4-1, the Rebels are looking to solidify their place at the top of the AISA Region 1 standings. “I think our team is in a great spot right now but we need to stay hungry and keep improving,” said Allen.

Two unanswered early touchdowns to start the game by junior running back Johntavious Flournoy and senior running back Christian Gillespie set the tone for the rest of the game as far as the Rebel offense was concerned. The later score coming courtesy of an earlier 59 yard run. Gillespie continued his torrid tear through the league with 250 yards on the ground with four scores. Flournoy finished the game with 90 yards rushing and three scores. Junior quarterback Malik Lyons made sure to join in the ground gaining fun with 165 rushing yards on 17 carries. “Our backs had a great game but the offensive line are our unsung heroes,” said the coach. The entire Rebel offensive line are set to return next season and that “unsung” tag won’t apply if the Rebel front five continues to make the holes they’re making for Lyons and the backs.

The Rebels were up 30-13 at halftime but had their lead cut to 11 before their defense put a stop to what would be a fantastic effort from Springwood running back Shykee Thomas. “Thomas had a great game,” said Allen. The junior finished the game with 275 yards and three touchdowns. The Wildcats quarterback however didn’t have as a good a night and that had a lot to do with the defensive pressure applied by the Rebel defensive line. Chandler Champion, a junior, went 4-9 for 78 yards and was sacked three times-twice by Rebel senior defensive end Jaime Brown. Brown also had eight tackles while junior defensive lineman Mateo Valdez had a team high nine tackles. The Rebels outscored the Wildcats 14-6 during the fourth quarter.

The Rebels will host Region 3A Pike Liberal Arts School (Troy, AL.) next week on Friday, October 2. “We will need to play well to have a chance but I know our kids won’t back down,” said Allen. I wouldn’t put anything past the Rebels the way they’re playing at the moment. Look out Pike.

Chambers JV stays undefeated with 30-0 win

Donnell Suggs
Sports Editor

The Chambers Academy JV football system is one of punishing runs and staunch defense. The system is running on full gear at the moment as their 30-0 win over Cornerstone Christian Academy on Tuesday, September 22 clearly demonstrates.

Both teams went scoreless during the second half of the game with the Rebels having scored 16 points during the first quarter followed by 14 in the second. Freshman running back Braxton Allen had a team high 71 rushing yards on six carries with fellow ninth grade running back Hayden Harris carrying the ball eight times for 38 yards. Both scored touchdowns along with C.J. Lyons, another freshman, who scored his via a 44 yard reception from quarterback Payton Allen who went 3-7 for 77 yards and had no interceptions.

The Rebels started the game strong from the outset and didn’t let up especially defensively. “This was a game our guys really had our opponent outmatched for the second consecutive week,” said head coach and Athletic Director Jason Allen. “We came out and and took care of business.”

The Rebels were lead in tackles by promising eighth grader Logan Broome with eight while fellow underclassman Braxton Allen contributed seven of his own. Mitchell Lee and Payton Allen had six.

The Rebels are undefeated thus far this season and the key to that according to coach Allen is turnovers. “[I’m] proud of the fact that for the second consecutive game we had no turnovers, if we continue to do that we’ll be tough to beat.”

The Rebels will travel to nearby Lanett to face the Springwood School Wildcats and according to coach Allen the lack of nail-biters the two previous weeks won’t keep his team from being prepared for what is supposed to be a good Wildcats team. “We get back into some tougher competition which I know is more exciting for the kids,” says Allen. “We will be ready.”

The game is scheduled to kick-off at 7 p.m.

LHS JV wins 28-6

Donnell Suggs
Sports Editor

Home is where the heart is and in the game of football it is usually where the advantage is. The LaFayette High School Bulldog JV football team is comfortable on their own turf and that comfortability finally manifested itself into a victory on Tuesday, September 22 as the Bulldogs defeated visiting Loachapoka High school 28-6 to get their first win of the season. “It was a great win, we looked good tonight,” said head coach Travis Smith.

The Bulldogs went up 16-6 at the half and didn’t allow another Indian score for the rest of the game. “The defense grew up tonight,” said Smith. “They finally made some gang tackles.”

The Bulldog offense was lead by eighth grade receiver/cornerback Xavier Holloway who had two touchdown receptions and an interception. A key player on both offense and defense Holloway is expected to get playing time on the varsity roster next season (if not later this season following the conclusion of JV play) and is expected to continue to anchor the JV squad. “This is what we needed all season is for our eighth graders to step up and become leaders,” said Smith. “They did exactly that tonight.”

The Bulldogs’ final game of the season will be on October 13 at Wadley, the previous scheduled game at Notasulga was cancelled.

Messer represents the best of the Bulldog fans

Bull Dog FanBy Donnell Suggs
Sports Editor

The crowd at the LaFayette High School Homecoming football game against Wadley was as energetic as any this reporter has seen all season at Bulldog Stadium. Even LaFayette head coach and Athletic Director James Lucas felt there was something different about this particular Friday night crowd, “Have you seen that many people at our game before?” I answered no to his question but there was one person at the game that I recognized instantly. He’s the number one LaFayette High School Bulldog fan in town, better yet the state.

Jerome Messer can be found leaning on the railing of the home side stands near midfield at every Bulldogs home game. He’s usually yelling out motivational statements to the Bulldog players or giving (unrequested) advice to the LaFayette coaching staff. “Come on coach you got to run the ball” or “Let’s go defense we need a big stop here guys”.

Nicknamed “Mr. Spirit”, the LaFayette native bleeds gold and black and wouldn’t dare miss a home game. “I’m going to try to come to most of the road games too and if we get into the playoffs I’m sure I’ll be there.”

Messer lives in Alexander City now but makes the 39 mile drive back to his hometown for every Bulldog game and at times-depending on his work schedule-will travel to away games. “They made a movie here right after I left,” says Messer referring to 1988’s ‘Mississippi Burning’ starring Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe. The film won the 1989 Oscar for Cinematography (Peter Biziou) and some the movies scenes were filmed in downtown LaFayette. “I just saw the movie the other day and you can just tell it’s LaFayette,” said Messer.

The October 16 Lannet/LaFayette game in nearby Lannet was one road game Messer said he was sure to make. “We have to beat Randolph County [in two weeks] here and then the Lannet game is going to be huge,” said Messer while holding a gold thunder stick and wearing his Class of 1980 LaFayette High School Homecoming t-shirt.

Throughout the game fans walked up to Messer to chat, some were old classmates in town for Homecoming, others talked football, having seen the boisterous self-proclaimed “super fan” at the two previous home games this season. Mr. Messer’s enthusiasm can be contagious as the crowd of fans closest to him seems to get swept into his web of histrionics as he gives a play-by-play account of a game they all just so happen to watching. A Bulldog fan through and through, Messer’s deepest passion is for the football team. Five minutes anywhere near him during a game and that will quickly become evident.

Following the LaFayette victory Messer packed up his gear and headed for a crowded parking lot, his team with a much needed victory and his work done. “I live out of town but I’m always going to be a Bulldog fan.” In my opinion Messer’s the best of that breed and personifies what’s best about both high school sports and local pride. Carry on ‘Mr. Spirit’, see you next week.

Built by The Robot Next Door. Powered by Wordpress.