Lamar head coach Mac Barnes makes no bones about where his team stands coming into Friday night's matchup with Starkville Academy.
Barnes, the longtime Meridian High coach who is now in his 10th season with Lamar, says he isn't happy with what little game action he has seen thus far from the Raiders.
"I wasn't pleased with the way we played (in our preseason jamboree)," said Barnes. "We played Jackson Prep and Jackson Academy and they're good, but we didn't play well then and we didn't play well again last week."
In Lamar's season opener last Friday night, East Rankin Academy held the Raiders scoreless, dropping Barnes' squad 17-0.
"It was an extremely hot night and our guys were gone pretty quick," said Barnes. "And we're dealing with a few injury problems."
It will be with those health issues, as well as a first-year starting quarterback, that Lamar brings to SA's homefield this week.
While those factors may sound like positives to Volunteers fans after losing to Lamar 43-7 a year ago, it would be wise for the SA faithful to respect the Raiders' weapons.
Junior Tyler Harris may be in his first season as a starting signal caller, but he passed for 130 yards and accounted for approximately 170 total yards in last week's defensive struggle with East Rankin.
"If everybody had played like Tyler last Friday, we would have been OK," said Barnes.
Receiver Charlie Nosco proved to be just as dangerous, hauling in five of Harris' passes for 84 yards.
While the air attack proved to be Lamar's primary weapon last week against a strong East Rankin defensive front, Barnes says he's not sure whether the Raiders will consistently go to the air against the Vols.
"It depends on what (SA) chooses to do," said Barnes. "We basically go in with a game plan that we'll have to adjust to what the other team is doing. If they give us the run, we'll run it and if they give us the pass, we'll have to be able to pass it. Each week, we put our offense in and then we try to take what our opponents give us."
With that said, Barnes isn't expecting this year's Jeff Terrill-led Vols team to hand his Raiders much, knowing the Vols are in the midst of what could be a turnaround season.
"Jeff and I go way back and are really good friends and I think he's done a really good job," said Barnes. "I saw the Ackerman game last week, and it was just a toss-up. For (SA) to come from losing 55-2 last year to losing 8-6 in overtime shows some substantial improvement."
While Barnes praised Terrill's work at Starkville Academy, he hopes the Vols will wait at least another week before recording a win and taking the next step in their progression. For the Lamar leader to get his wish, he says his Raiders can't repeat last week's performance."
"The biggest thing we've got to do is put the East Rankin game behind us," said Barnes. "We're a young team that will start five or six sophomores Friday night, and have very few people who are really used to being the key people. It's a little bit different being in a role where you don't have to make plays, then coming into a role where you have to, but that's just where we are right now."