Much of Lamar’s success over the past six years can be traced back to its work in the weight room and its dominance on the offensive and defensive line.
Enter senior Hunter Bayless, a 6’1, 200-pound defensive tackle who will anchor the program this season. Bayless brings a combination of speed and quickness to the field.
“I’m fast to the ball and aggressive when I get there,” he said “Then I’m all over the ball when it’s time.”
Winners of six straight state championships, Lamar enters the 2017 season hoping to keep the streak alive. The Tigers were slated to open on Friday at Cassville.
“I think we are all feeling really good about this year,” Bayless said. “It’s one of those things where you don’t know what you have until you get into it. We have some new guys in different positions this year. We like to see that. We also have some experience to some other positions. That’s going to be great for us this year.
“I’ve been going back to the roots of how you would normally do things. I don’t want to get fancy with it. It’s football. You don’t need to go crazy with the hype. You know how to win. We know how to play. We just want to put make sure everything is in order. We don’t want to get away from that.”
Bayless says he began playing football when he was in first or second grade and stuck with it as he got older.
“We play a lot of football here … As soon as tackle football started, most of us stuck with it,” he said. “It’s just something we couldn’t get enough of.”
Bayless says head coach Scott Bailey has had the biggest impact on his football career to date.
“He was the guy that took the school to the next level of respect,” Bayless said. “He won us a state championship when we were in middle school. That made us want to work that much harder. It’s all because of him and what he expects from his team.”
Although he doesn’t have a particular player that he looks up to, Bayless says he enjoys watching anyone play his position that is good and tries to take various elements of their game and make them his own.
“It’s easy to spot someone who knows how to move and how to use their body to get what they want,” he said. “I try to mimic things that work and use them where I can, in the situations that present themselves. I’m always trying to work things to my advantage.”
Bayless said several college programs have inquired about his abilities on the field.
“Schools have been asking a lot of questions, trying to get an idea of who I am,” he said. “We’re a small school, but we make a lot of noise.”