By Mike McAvoy
With his team huddled around him, Jamaica High School head Coach Calvin Whitfield stressed one phrase after their loss to Lafayette: mental mistakes.
Lafayette defeated host Jamaica 26-8, in a Saturday matchup of two undefeated Public Schools Athletic League Bowl Division football teams. Whitfield stressed the concept of being responsible for errors, citing that as the main reason for their first loss of the season.
“We beat ourselves today,” he said. “We didn’t play Jamaica football today.”
His defense allowed Lafayette quarterback Nileaj Hills to throw for 142 yards and three touchdowns. Hills connected on touchdown passes of 14, 39 and 66 yards. Their run defense didn’t fare any better as Lafayette (3-0) used four different rushers to compile 108 yards and one touchdown.
“They’re a pretty good team,” Whitfield said of Lafayette. “Athletically, we can play with anyone but mental mistakes beat us.”
Whitfield did not sugar coat his message to his team. He went throughout the huddle and pointed out what every single player needed to improve on. He highlighted the secondary’s missed coverage, the offensive line’s shaky protection, and wide receivers dropping passes. All three resulted in Lafayette’s lopsided victory.
Jamaica (2-1) did lead early in the second quarter, answering back to Lafayette’s long touchdown drive on the first possession of the game. Tylik Lawrie caught a tipped pass from quarterback Christopher Harris, streaking 49 yards down the right sideline for a score. Harris would also add a two-point conversion run to give Jamaica an 8-7 lead with 11:49 left in the second quarter.
That was all the Jamaica offense could muster, though, failing to find the end zone again while watching Hills and Lafayette do it with ease.
“I felt great coming into the game,” Harris said. “We came in undefeated and I thought we would beat them. Our line had some problems, and our receivers dropped the ball. It just wasn’t a good day.”
A lot of that was because of Lafayette’s game plan. They threw over Jamaica blitzes on offense and on defense threw triple coverage at Jamaica’s star wide out Abdul Rahm Ibrahim. He was held without a catch.
“Everywhere he went they went,” Harris said. “That’s where I wanted to go.”
Jamaica now heads back to the drawing board after their first loss of the season. Whitfield plans to spend the next week’s practice focusing on the little aspects of the game he hammered home in the post game huddle.
“We just have to work harder in practice,” Harris said. “If we sure up those mistakes, we can reach our goal of a championship.”