Homecoming for Crestwood High School is Friday, and that normally means a team will schedule a lesser-esteemed opponent, perhaps from a lower classification, to serve as the feast for the enjoyment of the alumni.
Crestwood, however, wound up looking at perennial 1A powerhouse Lamar on its homecoming schedule, and will be looking to avoid a second straight loss to the squad from just across the Darlington County line. The game is set for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Donald L. Crolley Memorial Stadium in Dalzell.
The Silver Foxes are 5-0 on the season and have yet to face a difficult test, winning by an average margin of more than 36 points. Last season, Lamar invaded the Knights' home turf and left with a 35-21 win en route to a spot in the SCHSL 1A state title game against eventual champion Lake View.
For its part, Crestwood got back on the winning track last week with a 38-6 victory over Marion; but the Knights' season has been a roller-coaster affair all year, unable to string together consecutive wins but also avoiding consecutive losses. Crestwood head coach Roosevelt Nelson knows his team is going to have to have an outstanding game to avoid a similar result to last year's.
"We've definitely got to play a better game for four quarters," said Nelson, whose team stands at 3-2. "On the defensive side of the ball, we've got to do a good job getting our right run-pitch and having our eyes in the right place when it's play-action pass and getting off the field on third down.
"Offensively, we've got to be able to run the ball and catch it and hold on to it," he said. "That's going to be tough because Lamar is a good team, undefeated, and the No. 1 team in 1A. They're probably a top-10 team regardless of classification in the state, so we've got a tall task. But it all starts with having a physical mentality when we get on the field and block and tackle."
Nelson said Lamar took advantage of his team's mistakes in last year's game and avoiding those is key to success.
"It only takes one person to not be in their gap, or have their eyes in the right place or not make the right key read and it's a touchdown or either a big play for them defensively," Nelson said. "We've got to be sound in everything we do."
Nelson said there's nothing simple about the attack Lamar brings to the field -- as is sometimes the case with teams from smaller schools.
"They're going to attack you north and south, east and west and take their shots over the top, so they're going to make you cover the entire field," he said. "You're going to get some wing-T, some pistol, some spread, jet sweeps. At the end of the day, they're trying to get good angles on you and out-leverage you. Nothing matters for the three or four seconds a play takes place except your key. That's all that matters."
Nelson said he was happy to see his team have more success running the ball in last week's win over Marion.
"We're making a step in the right direction," Nelson said. "I was pleased last week, offensively, to be able to get the running game going, although it still wasn't perfect. Defensively, we were able to execute on third down and stop the run, and we're going to definitely need that to carry over this week. On special teams, we blocked a punt and were able to get some good returns. All those things are important for us to execute well on Friday."