Undefeated Marquette, Lafayette will meet in Suburban West showdown
By: Warren Mayes
Marquette versus Lafayette. Does anything more need to said?
It’s one of the area’s top rivalry games and the Suburban West Conference matchup is set for 7 p.m. Friday (Sept. 7) at Lafayette. Both teams are undefeated at 2-0. Lafayette is ranked No. 4 in the latest Missouri Class 6 poll.
“We are excited to play Marquette,” Lafayette coach Boyd Manne said. It is a great Rockwood district rivalry game.”
Marquette coach Ryan Thornhill agreed.
“I just think that every Friday night is special,” Thornhill said. “Young men only get a few years when they can participate in Friday night football, and it is something they will always remember.”
Normally, this game comes late in the season. That was because in the old playoff system in Missouri, the districts were the final three games of the season and the Mustangs and Lancers were in the same district. Those games determined who advanced to the playoffs.
This year, the state changed to a new format. Each team gets to play nine games and accumulates points with each win or loss. Then, the district is seeded and teams square off in Week 10 to start the playoffs. Winners will advance and losers can start getting ready for next year.
Thornhill said playing a rivalry game like this so early is not a big deal.
“It really doesn’t matter to us,” Thornhill said. “It is always a great game no matter the date of it.”
The two teams have been fairly even in the last five years. Lafayette holds a 3-2 in that time span. Ironically, the Mustangs have won twice at Lafayette while the Lancers have won the last three at Marquette. Last year, Lafayette won 41-7 at Marquette.
Lafayette opened the season with two impressive victories. The Lancers stopped Eureka 30-6 in the season opener and last week pounded Pattonville 48-0.
Marquette opened with a 10-9 league victory over Oakville and beat Hazelwood West 19-6 last week. The Mustangs were last 2-0 at the start of a season in 2010.
With the Lafayette game looming, Thornhill acknowledged he had to remind his Mustangs to take care of the task at hand in playing Hazelwood West at home.
“It was a little challenging to get the kids to focus (on) Week Two,” Thornhill said. “Many of them wanted to look ahead at Lafayette, so when it comes to game week it is not a challenge to get the kids up for this game.”
Thornhill said he is pleased with how his Mustangs have performed this fall. However, he added Marquette needs to keep working.
“We have looked solid in our first two games, but we still have a ways to go,” Thornhill said. “The main thing we want to see is improvement week to week.”
The keys to Marquette’s start are varied, Thornhill said.
“We have good leadership on this team,” Thornhill said. “We are lead by a lot of seniors that started as juniors. Our defense has played really well.”
The formula for success against Lafayette is not complicated, Thornhill said.
“It is pretty simple. We have to have players make plays,” Thornhill said. “We can’t turn the ball over and we can’t give up any big plays on special teams.”
The Lancers are recognized as one the state’s top teams. Thornhill said that is no hype.
“They really don’t have a weakness on the team,” Thornhill said. “When we watch film we always look for players that we feel we can exploit, and they really don’t have any. They are a very solid team that has played very well so far.”
With the Mustangs’ track record in recent years playing well at Lafayette, Thornhill said he is looking forward to going into the Lancers’ den.
“We feel very comfortable playing at their stadium,” Thornhill said. “We always seem to play well there.”