Tobias Lafayette immediately stood out to Brad Bowles this summer.
The first-year Cyclones head coach was trying to identify his best athletes. He knew Lafayette could contribute, maybe more than the three-sport senior even realized.
Lafayette has been voted the South Atlantic Bank East Cooper Player of the Week for his two-way effort in the Porter-Gaud’s 28-14 win at First Baptist.
Lafayette pulled in four catches for a team-best 133 yards on offense. He added two interceptions, a fumble recovery and four tackles for a Cyclones defense that limited the Hurricanes to their second-lowest scoring game of the season.
“He’s been a really valuable part of our team,” Bowles said. “Having a guy that can stretch the field on offense as well as go make plays on defense the way he can is rare and, for us, a huge asset.”
Lafayette began the summer playing solely defensive back. He showed flashes at practice, though, that convinced Bowles and the Cyclones staff that he was being underutilized.
Now, not only does he lead the Cyclones in interceptions, he leads the team in yards, scoring and receptions too.
Against First Baptist, he set Porter-Gaud up at the Hurricanes' 2-yard line with a 73-yard one-handed catch early in the first quarter. He broke free for a 46-yard grab down the middle of the defense to the Cyclones’ 3-yard line in the second quarter.
First Baptist was driving inside the Porter-Gaud red zone when Lafeyette scooped a fumble at the Cyclones’ 10-yard line. He pulled down a jump-ball interception battling with 6-foot-5 App State commit Sincere Brown at the Cyclones’ 3-yard line. His second interception came while guarding Brown too, this time high-pointing an underthrown pass with two other Cyclones in coverage.
“Watching him come out of his shell has been a lot of fun this season,” Bowles said. “He’s played in a bunch of big games on the basketball court and I think that confidence translates over to football. I think he knew he was capable of that. He had it deep down. It was just about putting him in positions to bring that out of him.”
Lafayette is the third Cyclone to be voted Player of the Week this season, following quarterback Matt Kelly and defenseman Walker Carswell. He finished six votes ahead of Philip Simmons’ Solly Bess in fan voting. Wando’s Jake Fetchen followed in third with Bishop England quarterback Cam Costa fourth.
Local fans will next have the opportunity to choose the East Cooper Player of the Year. Each of the 10 weekly winners will be automatically entered into the running along with several at-large selections to determine the fan’s choice for the area’s top player this season. Porter-Gaud, First Baptist, Philip Simmons, Wando and Bishop England have all been represented this fall. Players from Academic Magnet, Oceanside and Palmetto Christian will also be considered.
Voting for the East Cooper Player of the Year will open Nov. 20 at moultrienews.comp/potw2019.