The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

High School Sports

November 10, 2012

Lamar puts focus on stopping Acklin

There’s no hiding that Jaelon Acklin is the one who makes the offense go.

The Liberty (Mountain View-Birch Tree) junior quarterback has passed for 1,601 yards and 20 touchdowns and has rushed for 1,213 yards and 21 touchdowns. He’s even caught a nine-yard pass for a touchdown.

In addition, he has been a return man and punter. He has three interceptions and a fumble as a defensive back.

No doubt, he will be a focus for the Lamar Tigers as they travel to face Acklin and his Eagles teammates at 1:30 p.m. today in Mountain View in a Class 2 state quarterfinal game.

“Very similar to the spread teams you play that have a good athlete at quarterback, he’s a dual threat,” Lamar coach Scott Bailey said. “He’s going to run and throw both. When they’re on offense, you have to account for him and James Denton. They’re the two best athletes on the field and you got understand where they’re at, why they’re there and what they’re trying to accomplish with them.”

Lamar (10-2) will be facing Liberty in the playoffs for the third consecutive season. The Tigers won 21-20 in 2010 and 33-18 in the quarterfinals last season during their march to the Class 2 state championship.

The Eagles, however, will look a little different than last year. Acklin was a receiver in 2011, and Denton had a lesser role as a junior and had only one carry. Denton has rushed for 839 yards and seven touchdowns, while catching 32 balls 716 yards and nine touchdowns. Liberty also is bigger on the line.

“In the last two years we’ve played them, they are a team that is built more and more on speed,” Bailey said. “This year’s team has more size up front than the previous two teams. They’re bigger up front and a little more physical.”

Liberty (10-2) is riding a six-game winning streak since falling 27-20 to Mountain Grove on Sept. 28. The Eagles avenged that loss with a 21-7 win over Mountain Grove on Monday.

Lamar has won nine straight since falling to Seneca and Cassville early. The Tigers have rolled over Stockton, Ash Grove and Butler in the first three rounds of the playoffs.

Quarterback Levi Petersen and running back Jared Beshore have shined in Lamar’s misdirection offense. Petersen has ran for 1,472 yards and 23 touchdowns, while Beshore than 1,574 and 21 touchdowns.

As a team, the Tigers are rushing for 401 yards a game.

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