• John Macon Gillespie

Will Ard Wants Title In 2016

Will Ard started all 13 games for Lafayette High in 2015, leading them to a 10-3 record and an appearance in the second round of the playoffs. The Commodores were defeated only by the 4A champions Noxubee County, the champions of 5A North and crosstown rival Oxford, and then, interestingly enough, Senatobia.

Michael Fair coached for Senatobia last season, but was recently named the new head coach at Lafayette, replacing Eric Robertson. For Ard, who threw 10 touhdowns and completed nearly 60 percent of his passes, the move is exciting.

“He’s going to be great for out team. I’ve heard he’s a players’ coach that can get kids to play hard for him,” Ard told SES Mississippi.

After throwing for 1,402 yards last season, Ard could be a guy for Fair to build his offense around in his first season. There are playmakers returning at the skill positions this Fall and Ard could be deadly distributing the rock from the pocket. However, he is also effective when he is forced to move, as well. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry last season and added three touchdowns on the ground.

“I mainly like to stay in the pocket, but I’ll run when needed,” He explained. “I think I can throw the ball with the best of them. I like to stretch the ball down the field. What sets me apart is how I stay calm in pressure situations when my team needs a big play.”

Last season Fair guided the Senatobia offense to a cool 227 yards per game on the ground. So Ard’s athleticism and ability to run the ball could be highlighted, as well as needed, in 2016. However, getting the ball downfield through the air, as he mentioned, could also open up space on the ground.

“I think the ability to stretch the field will open up the running game even more. That’s all up to coach. I just want to be the best player I can be for my team,” Ard said.

The last few weeks and months Ard has been on the baseball diamond, helping the Dores to a 7-1 division record thus far, but he hasn’t neglected football. Instead, he’s been working hard to get better both physically and mentally in preparation for this final high school football season this Fall.

“I’ve spent most of the offseason trying to get stronger and bigger. I’ve put on 20 pounds from last year. I’m working on getting the ball out quicker and anticipating routes better. I feel like I’ve gotten better with understanding coverages and defensive schemes,” He offered.

The aforementioned loss to Noxubee County in the second round of the 4A playoffs last November has also served as a positive for Ard. It is has driven him through the offseason and will continue to do so. Much of his hard work to get better is fueled by the bitter taste of that defeat when it appeared the Commodores were on their way to Oxford.

“My ultimate goal is to go play for a state championship,” Ard stated.

When Ard is working hard to become the best player he can be, he remembers how far he has come. Also, he looks forward to where he wants to be. All that he has learned along the way has made him the player he is now, but his hard work can mold him into what he wants to be.

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots and Aaron Murray, who was a 4-year starter at Georgia, are two guys that Ard tries to emulate and sees some of his own skills in.

“I’ve always liked Tom Brady’s throwing motion and how smart he is on the field. Aaron Murray and I have similar size and athletic ability. Also, like him, I’m more of a pocket-passer, with enough athletic ability to run and move in the pocket,” He said.

“I started my freshman year at Pontotoc very undersized and inexperienced, but I felt like I got better every game. Then I moved to Lafayette the next year. I learned a lot from coach Robertson and coach Finley. I’m excited to play for coach Fair. I think I’ve improved the most with my work ethic and leadership over the years.”

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