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Versailles to face seven-time state champ Lamar

Versailles to face seven-time state champ Lamar

November 9th, 2018 by Dave Roberts in Sports Prep

VERSAILLES — Broc Silvers said his Versailles Tigers wanted seven-time defending Missouri Class 2 state champion Lamar.

Tonight they get them.

Now what?

"Good question!" laughed Silvers, Versailles head coach. "Now we've got to play out of our minds."

Third-seeded Versailles (7-4) travels to Lamar tonight to take on the top-seeded Lamar Tigers in the Class 2 District 4 championship game (7 p.m. kickoff).

Versailles got its shot in the district finals by upsetting second-seeded El Dorado Springs 48-36 on the road last week. Lamar (10-1) whipped fourth-seeded Sarcoxie 36-6 in the other semifinal game.

To say Versailles' task tonight is daunting would be an understatement.

Lamar has a current string of seven consecutive state championships, a Missouri record. Lamar also had the nation's longest winning streak of 57 games until that was snapped Oct. 19 by Big 8 Conference rival Cassville 24-21 on a 36-yard field goal on the final play of the game.

Under head coach Scott Bailey, Lamar has simply been perfect in postseason play the past seven-plus seasons.

"They're the whole package for sure," Silvers said. "For us it's another step in our program's development. If we were in a different district, I'd say we'd have a 50/50 shot at winning (a district championship).

"But the way we look at it we're playing with house money. We were the underdog last week and again this week. We've got nothing to lose now."

Bailey said he's had his eye on the improving Versailles for more than a year and will have no talk about Versailles being an underdog.

"People who know me know I don't take anybody for granted," Bailey said. "If I was going to label Versailles, I'd use the phrase, 'growing up.' They are playing a lot of juniors who played as sophomores last year. Those kids are a year older and a year stronger."

Lamar features a unique single-wing offensive attack, with a double-tight end, double-wing look and extremely tight lineman splits.

A team that stops Lamar must match power with power.

"When we installed (the single-wing) in 2008 we had a saying, 'One good fake will block two defenders,'" Bailey said. "And that misdirection became more effective as we got bigger and stronger."

Lamar's attack is led by senior quarterback Duncan Gepner, who is a dangerous runner and equally dangerous as a play-action passer. Perhaps the most athletic skill player is senior wideout/defensive back Landon Hardman.

Junior quarterback Donte Stahl and sophomore Case Tucker are other threats on offense. Returning all-state pick Caleb Gouge (6-4, 300) anchors the offensive line. Two-time all-state linebacker Travis Bailey leads the Lamar defense.

"The offense runs through Gepner," Silvers said. "He's in a dual-quarterback system, along with several others, but he's the guy when it counts. He and Hardman are their No. 1 and No. 2 weapons. But they have several other kids who are dangerous. They probably have a 60-man roster and are really solid."

Silvers compares playing Lamar to matching up against Tri-County Conference rival Blair Oaks, which has also won multiple state titles. Blair Oaks ended the regular season No. 1 in Class 2 in the Missouri Media Rankings, while Lamar was ranked No. 2.

"Scheme-wise they're completely different," Silvers said of Lamar and Blair Oaks. "One is spread, one is tight. But the tradition around the programs is similar. Not that we were close to beating Blair Oaks, but playing them is similar (in talent level) with Lamar.

"We feel we have played one of the better Class 2 schedules in the state."

In last week's upset of El Dorado Springs, Versailles piled up 475 yards of total offense. As usual, junior quarterback Coby Williams accounted for the bulk of that, rushing for 114 yards and two touchdowns and hitting 22-of-35 passes for 281 yards and three TDs.

Junior running back Dallas Waller added 75 rushing yards and a TD.

El Dorado Springs also had a huge offensive game with more than 500 yards of total offense, including 370 rushing yards. However, the Versailles defense intercepted three passes — two by senior Wyatt Espinosa — and senior linebacker Michael Trotter made 17 tackles.

Williams now has completed 139-of-215 passes for 1,630 yards, seven interceptions and 17 touchdowns while rushing for 1,404 yards and 24 TDs. Trotter has rushed for 465 yards. Espinosa leads the receiving group with 51 receptions for 662 yards and eight TDs while Waller has 41 catches for 400 yards.

Trotter has 149 tackles — 102 solo — and three QB sacks to pace the Versailles defense. Versailles has 15 interceptions — five by Espinosa.

"Williams stood out last year as a sophomore," Bailey said. "He's no surprise to us; we've been watching him since last year. The one word I use most about him is legit — he's a true dual-threat quarterback."