LAMAR, S.C. — The Lamar Silver Foxes are well rested after a first-round bye.
Now, the journey begins to what they hope is their fifth consecutive Class A state final. First up is today’s 7:30 p.m. home game against Ware Shoals.
“It’s good football weather, so that’s good with the kids,” said Chad Wilkes, the first-year Lamar coach. “We’re as healthy as we can be at this time of the year, so we’re excited.”
With two state crowns since 2015, the Silver Foxes (8-2) want another one after falling in last year’s final to Green Sea Floyds.
With more of a spread variety to Lamar’s running game, Wilkes likes his team’s chances. How can he not with 2,939 rushing yards?
“If we play as well as we’re capable of, we think we have a pretty good shot at it,” Wilkes said. “(Ware Shoals’ 4-7 record) is what it is. It’s just not quite as good as ours, but it’s still a playoff game. And it’s still a game where we’ve got to earn for the right to play next week. So no matter what their record is, or who they’ve played, we’ve got to come out and play our best. And that’s what we’re focused on. If we do that against most teams, we’re going to be all right.”
While quarterback Cam Galloway has 854 yards and 10 touchdowns, Jaquell James has 719 and 11, followed by Rashad Johnson with 417 and five.
“As the year has gone on, we’ve lined up and focused on getting guys out of the box and using the running lanes and then getting into the wishbone and mashing people,” Wilkes said. “We haven’t done a whole lot of double wing, but we still have the package from the first of the season.”
To balance things, Galloway has 499 passing yards and six touchdowns.
“With all the option and reading stuff and misdirection out of our spread, Cam plays a big role in running the ball for us,” Wilkes said. “We spread to run the ball first. But if you give us the pass, we’ll take it.”
That’s when Galloway can go to receivers like T.J. Dolford (212 yards, four TDs) and D.J. Green (185, three).
Green also has rushed for 395 yards and 13 scores.
“(Green) is one of those kids who does a lot for us,” Wilkes said. “He’s also one of our leading tacklers.”
Here’s another reason Lamar should have confidence going into Friday: Their two losses were to Class 2A schools (Central, Gray Collegiate).
“We feel like we had a good chance in both of those games; we just made mistakes down the stretch,” Wilkes said.
Now against schools their own size, however, the Silver Foxes are ranked third in Class A and want to finish on top. With a win tonight, Lamar plays the McCormick/Wagener-Salley winner next week and would hit the road if the War Eagles also beat McCormick.
If the Chiefs win, Lamar will host.
But first things first: Ware Shoals’ Hornets are coming to town.
Lamar, meanwhile, is experienced enough to take this step by step.