The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

High School Sports

July 27, 2013

Lamar community shows football support in July

 Dozens of Lamar Tigers fans break out their lawnchairs on a breezy Friday night in July to catch a glimpse of their football team.

Others back up their trucks and watch from the comfort of their tailgates. A couple dozen more stand in line to buy the latest Lamar Tigers T-shirt.

Yes, we’re talking about practice. Well, technically a scrimmage.

Lamar, the two-time defending Class 2 state champs, had a controlled scrimmage in shoulder pads and helmets against McDonald County on Friday night at Lamar’s practice field.

Just saying that the Lamar community appears ready for football season wouldn’t do the scene justice.

“It just shows how much our community really backs us and our football program,” senior running back and defensive back Jared Beshore said. “It shows how many people really want to come out here and watch us succeed. It’s really good to see all that excitement for football season.”

The excitement is by all means warranted. After finishing the 2007 season with an 0-10 record, Lamar has built itself into one of the model small school programs in the state. The Tigers return seven all-state players seven others who earned all-Big 8 or all-district honors from last year’s team that finished 13-2.

Quarterbacks Levi Petersen and Tripp Tucker, running backs Beshore and Brett McDonald, tight ends Sam Bailey and Billy O’Brien and offensive linemen Ben Bailey, Jimmy Keutzer and Trenton Mooney return to lead Lamar’s two-quarterback double wing offense. Beshore and Petersen each rushed for more than 2,000 yards last season.

Lamar coach Scott Bailey said the team’s experience made for a smooth two-week camp.

“Our install went very quick at all three levels,” he said. “Our freshmen have been running this offense in middle school and elementary school. Our JV is coming back after running it with us a year ago. We got an enormous amount of starters of back on defense, so our install has gone faster than it ever has since I’ve been here at Lamar.”

Defensively, the Tigers return defensive backs Beshore, Petersen, McDonald and Landon Compton and defensive linemen Sam Bailey, Ben Bailey, Brandon Eaves, and Jacob Rice. J.T. Tucker will transition from defensive end to linebacker.

The Tigers scrimmaged at McDonald County on Thursday and at home against the Mustangs on Friday. The practices served as a good warm-up for both teams as McDonald County will open the season at Lamar on Aug. 30.

“We got good competition,” Beshore said. “Going against Mac County helps us get game ready. We had been beating each other up for the past two weeks, so getting to play regular teams is good competition. “It helps a lot, knowing what players we’re going to play against and what kind of level of team we’re going to playing against. Since it’s the same team, it gives us more time to prepare for the first game.”

Lamar’s players and coaches are focused on trying to win a third straight state title, but they will tell you that winning the Big 8 also is a major goal. After all, the Tigers haven’t won a share of the conference title since 2003 and have never won the Big 8 by themselves.

“With being the small school in the Big 8 and having never won a conference championship outright, if you were to go around town here in Lamar there’s a running debate as to which one of those championships is more prestigious,” Scott Bailey said. “Is it winning an outright Big 8 championship being the smallest school in the conference or winning the Class 2 state championship? Some of the folks here in town try to draw me in to that discussion, and I just say ‘yes.’ I want them both. We’re here to win them all. I’m not going to try to differentiate between which one is more important to me than the other. I want to win them all.”

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