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Jamboree Preview: Lafayette vs. South Panola


Lafayette's Randy Anderson (Photo courtesy of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal)

The South Panola Tigers and the Lafayette Commodores are preparing for the regular season by facing off in a jamboree at Robert H. Dunlap Stadium on Friday at 6 p.m. Both teams come into this season with high expectations after both were able to make it to the playoffs last season and look to do the same this year. Let’s look at some game notes before the two teams kick off. 


What To Know:


Both teams entering this contest are ready to show their fans what they have been working on all summer. Last season, South Panola went 7-6 and lost to Starkville in the first round of the 6A playoffs while Lafayette went 9-4 and lost to West Point in the second round of the 5A playoffs, so you can expect these teams to give it all they got. The two teams also played each other last season in a jamboree with Lafayette taking the win against South Panola by a score of 20-7.


The teams primarily focused on their running game last season. The Commodores had three players to go over 1,000 rushing yards and the Tigers rushed for 3,608 yards. Lafayette lost two of those 1,000-yard rushers but returns senior QB Randy Anderson who rushed for 1,508 yards and 18 touchdowns as well as throwing for 1,319 yards and nine touchdowns without an interception. Don’t be surprised to see Lafayette rely on their running game to move the chains against South Panola’s defense. The Tigers, however, will be relying on their senior running back and 2019 Elite 10 member Janari Dean to carry the load on offense after rushing for 2,030 yards and finding the endzone 18 times last season. Their starting O-line this year consists of four seniors and one junior, so they will not be strangers on the field coming into this matchup.


Defense will also be a factor in tonight’s game as well. Although Lafayette lost their top cornerback Brandon Turnage, they can still rely on seniors Tavion Prather, who calculated 88 tackles and 9.5 sacks, to be a team leader on the defensive side of the ball and Keeton Hunter-McIntosh who gained 92 tackles and four sacks last season. South Panola will return their leading tackler, defensive linebacker Jay Gillespie, as well as junior defensive tackle Tra Norwood, who had five sacks last year for the Tiger Defense.


Questions heading into the game:


- How many snaps will Janari Dean play for South Panola tonight as he plans to be starting at running back and safety?


- How effective will the running game be for Lafayette?


- Can South Panola’s front 7 improve after last season with talented playmakers this year?


- Will Lafayette be able to depend on their secondary if they have to?


Conclusion:


This will be a very interesting game. I predict that it will come down to a close score with a seven-point difference when it is over. South Panola has the home field advantage, and they should be able to feed off the crowd. That doesn’t mean Lafayette isn’t going to be a tough opponent to beat. If they can get their versatile offense to put points up early in the matchup, they can put themselves in a position to control the pace of the game.


Follow Johnathan on Twitter at @JWillSES.

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