Sweet Water faces unique challenge

Football practice on Thanksgiving Day has become somewhat of a staple in Sweet Water during Stacy Luker’s time atop the Bulldog football program. This week, however, Sweet Water (10-2) prepares for a team and an offense that is altogether unfamiliar as it readies to play host to Lamar County (9-3) Friday night.

“They’re going to run the football. They want to run it. They want to be physical. They want to play the game that way. They don’t mind playing the three yards and a cloud of dust game. They’re sort of fun to watch on film. They’re very well coached,” Luker said of the Lamar County attack, which is led by signal-caller Dallas Cockerham. “The quarterback really controls it. They run out of that old Notre Dame box and they also get up under center. When they’re in the box, they run a lot of leads and sweeps to him and when they’re under center, they run a lot of option. They want him to have that ball in his hands. He’s a good football player. He’s a 1000-yard rusher and he’s thrown for close to that.”

Cockerham paced Lamar County last week with 134 yards rushing on 29 carries as LCHS went on the road and thumped G.W. Long 41-19. Lamar County also showed a penchant for mixing things up some in that contest as it allowed Landon Williams to take some snaps out of the shotgun formation. Williams cashed one of those opportunities in for a 36-yard scoring run.

Cockerham completed only three passes in the G.W. Long win, finding Timothy Harton for touchdown strikes on all three.

Despite the big-play ability of Lamar County, Luker pointed to the team’s ability to piece together methodical drives as the most alarming aspect of its offense.

“I think they’re ability to control the clock and eat up minutes with drives, that’s something that we haven’t seen much this year. We’ve seen teams that have had the capability to run the clock but didn’t go into that mode,” Luker said of Lamar County, which called 31-straight run plays at one juncture during the G.W. Long game. “They’re like us. They want to stay ahead of the chains.”

As effective as its offense can be, Lamar has also been able to hang its hat on its run defense at times this season. That run-stopping ability helped the squad last week as it limited a G.W. Long attack accustomed to 370 rushing yards a game to only 104.

“They base out of a four-man front. They move those guys around a good bit,” Luker said.

The key for Sweet Water, Luker pointed out, will be forcing Lamar’s punter into ample playing time while also taking advantage of offensive opportunities.

“Staying disciplined on your keys. Be disciplined with your eyes, read your keys and stay true to them. This is a different offense. You don’t see it much,” Luker said. “Defensively, you have to try to go out there and get a lot of three-and-outs.”

Lamar County and Sweet Water are scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Nolan Atkins Stadium Friday night.