Cougars ready for title-game rematch
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The Lafayette Christian School Cougars will jump into a new season against a familiar foe.
On a rainy December night last year, Griffin Christian outlasted home-standing Lafayette Christian 19-13 to win the Georgia Independent Christian Athletic Association state championship.
On Friday, those two foes will meet once again, with Griffin Christian serving as the host team for the rematch.
A year ago, Lafayette Christian opened its season with an 18-7 road loss to Central Fellowship, and head coach Billy Bryant felt conditioning was an issue in that game, and he’s confident that won’t be a problem on Friday.
“I feel strongly that we’re better off this year than we were last year,” Bryant said. “Last year, the heat index was so high, that we were battling the fact that we couldn’t get in pads, we couldn’t hit, and the heat itself. This year, we’ve made some adjustments, and the last three weeks of practice have been really good.”
The Cougars recovered from that opening loss to have an outstanding season, and they came up just short of winning the program’s second state title.
Lafayette Christian had the ball in the closing moments of the championship game, but its fate was sealed by a lost fumble.
This team appears well-positioned to make another title run with a strong group of returning players, including a group of committed seniors who have helped Lafayette Christian reach the state-title game the past two years.
The seniors are W.J. Bailey, Ben Dixon, Cameron Elliott, Cason Firth, Nathan Karvelas, Kamal Parham, Cade Parnell and Luke Taunton.
“We’ve got eight seniors. They’re the leaders,” Bryant said. “They know the team. They know the expectations. They’ve been to the dance twice before. They’ve been denied. Those guys are hungry. Those eight seniors are blazing the trail.”
While the seniors will no doubt play a key role on the team, a talented group of underclassmen will be critical to the Cougars’ success as well.
One of those underclassmen is junior Jacob Karvelas, who will lead the offense from the quarterback position.
“He has a real good handle on (the offense),” Bryant said. “He has mobility. He has agility. He has strength. He will not back down from anyone. I believe I could put him head-to-head with somebody on the collegiate level. He knows he may not win the battle, but he’s not going to back down.”
For the Cougars, and every football team in the state, it has been an unusual spring and summer because of Covid-19.
There has been doubt as to whether the season would actually happen, but the teams have made it to the start line at least.
“We’re hoping and praying that teams are doing what they’re supposed to do, and that we can safeguard the health of our players and spectators and have a good season and get our minds off of this disease,” Bryant said.
LAFAYETTE CHRISTIAN VS.
WHEN: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
LAST MEETING: Griffin Christian beat Lafayette Christian 19-13 to win the 2019 state title