The New Brockton Gamecocks (5-5, 4-3) will travel 146 miles north to do battle with Region 4’s LaFayette Bulldogs (5-4, 5-1) on Friday, Nov. 8, in the opening round of the Class 2A Playoffs.
This is the first time in school history that the two sides have met but both are coming off very similar regular seasons. LaFayette closed out its regular season with a brutal four-game stretch of road games – including a tough matchup with Class 4A’s Alabama Christian – before getting a bye week last week.
The Gamecocks are coming off two straight wins and five wins in the last seven games to get into the playoffs with Region 3’s No. 3 seed.
“They’re really athletic and have some really good players,” New Brockton coach Zack Holmes said of LaFayette. “They play in a good region that plays some good football up there, too.
“They’re similar to us but I think we’re trending in the right direction and peaking at the right time. Hopefully we can carry that over into the playoffs.”
Holmes said that of the Gamecocks’ opponents this season, LaFayette reminds him most of Luverne and Highland Home.
“They’re super athletic,” he again emphasized. “In both of those games (against Luverne and Highland Home) defensively it was about big plays.
“We can’t let (LaFayette) big play us to death. We have to make them go on 10-play drives if they’re going to score. Make them earn it.”
New Brockton’s balance on offense has been a blessing for the Gamecocks as the season has advanced. Quarterback Kaden Cupp has 1,946 total yards and 26 touchdowns – 1,399 yards and 18 touchdowns passing and 547 yards rushing with eight more touchdowns – while, running back Kyan Horne has rushed for 1,206 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground.
“We want to run the ball and if they load the box, we have to make plays throwing the ball,” Holmes said. “The balance we’ve had has really been neat. We’re really balanced on offense and we have to make sure we take what (LaFayette) gives us.
“We have to be consistent and execute our brand of football to have success.”
If LaFayette loads up to stop the Gamecock rushing attack, Cupp’s ability to spread the ball around in the passing game could be a big advantage.
Tight end Russell Weeks is New Brockton’s leading receiver with 28 catches for 459 yards and eight touchdowns, but receivers De’Shawn McLeod (13 catches for 337 yards and four touchdowns), Colton Marsh (14 catches, 149 yards and two touchdowns), Kaden Hood (15 catches, 234 yards and four touchdowns) and CJ Wilkerson (15 catches, 223 yards and one touchdown) have all taken turns making big plays throughout the season.
The Bulldogs come in with a rushing attack that has totaled more than 2,000 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2019 with senior Ke’Andrae Peterson leading the way with 890 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground.
LaFayette averages 28.8 points per game and has given up just 15.7 points per game. New Brockton is averaging 30 points per game this season and 28.4 points per game on defense, but since giving up 40 points or more in three of their first five games, the Gamecocks have only given up more than 21 points once in the past five outings.
New Brockton’s defense is led by an active defensive line that includes leading tacklers Brandon McCoy and Josh Cardwell. Through 10 games, McCoy has an eye-popping 26 tackles-for-loss and 10 sacks along with 58 total tackles, while Cardwell has contributed 48 total tackles, 12.5 tackles-for-loss and 7.5 sacks. Linebacker Drew Cashin has also been solid with 40 tackles and six tackles-for-loss in 2019.
New Brockton and LaFayette will kickoff at 7 p.m. in LaFayette.