5A Beware, Quarles Is Coming
It’s no secret that the Lafayette Commodores have been a factory for producing top notch running backs year in and year out, just check the stats. Since 2010, Lafayette has had three running backs crack the century mark at 2,000 yards: Demarkus Dennis, Tyrell Price, and the most recent installment, Jamarcus Quarles.
In his junior year, Quarles ran for 2,140 yards and 19 touchdowns on his way to helping his team win the 4A state title this past year at Mississippi State. Going into 2017, he and his fellow Commodores are looking to shake up 5A in their first season in that classification.
“If we work together, we will be successful once again,” Quarles told SES Mississippi.
His breakout year was one of many storylines in 2016. Another storyline was his new head coach, Michael Fair.
“Coach Fair really knows what he is doing when it comes to winning championships and building a great team,” Quarles said. “The influence that he has on all of us is tremendous. People respect him. I respect him as a coach and as a regular guy personally. If you need a ride to practice, there is no excuse because he will come and get you with no questions asked.”
After sitting behind 2,000 yard rusher Tyrell Price as a sophomore in 2015, Quarles was immediately named the starter at running back the following year. It wasn't an easy task, but he knew what it took to do so once he put his career high 272 yard rushing performance against his crosstown rival behind him according to Quarles.
“I started out rough last season, not knowing the plays, not knowing where to be, not taking my time on handoffs, fumbling on the one yard line,” Quarles said. “The night before the Oxford game, I sat at home and just thought about how good it would be and how good I would feel if we won the Crosstown Classic trophy. So I went out in the yard by myself and I did footwork drills and I changed the placement of my hands on the football so I wouldn't fumble as much. On game day, everyone did a very good job individually, which is why we won the game. The team helped me stay focused.”
Twelve games later, Quarles finished the season with more rushing yards than his predecessor, Price. Although it was a season to remember personally, he gives the big men up front a lot of credit for his success in 2016.
“Without coach (Jason) Russell and the O-Line, I wouldn't have rushed for as many yards as I did. The adjustments that were made and all the coaches played a huge role in order for Lafayette to have a successful rushing attack,” Quarles said.
With a state championship winning season in the rear view mirror, Quarles and company will have new challenges awaiting them. The defending 5A champs, West Point, as well as a host of solid teams will look to give the Commodores a painful welcome to 5A. Lafayette will look to use a productive summer and hard work to combat all that lies ahead in 2017.
“The workouts are tough, but they will prepare us for what we will be facing out there when Friday night comes around,” Quarles said.
The Commodores will travel to recently consolidated Cleveland Central on August 18 to kickoff the 2017 season.
** Photo by Keith Warren of the MHSAA.