Grangers’ Giddens gets his chance
By Kevin Eckleberry firstname.lastname@example.org
It was a miserable season.
There’s no sugar-coating it, really.
Zach Giddens was hoping to have a memorable senior season as the LaGrange High starting quarterback.
Instead, Giddens ended up playing less than one quarter, so he was little more than a spectator during his final season of high-school football.
Giddens missed the first two games of the season while recovering from offseason surgery, but he was healthy and ready to go as the Grangers headed into their third game against Thomson.
Before the first quarter was over, Giddens’ night was done after he suffered a shoulder injury.
Turns out, that was it for the season.
There was some hope at the time that Giddens would be able to come back and play, but that didn’t happen because of the severity of the shoulder injury.
“It probably wouldn’t have been as bad if I’d known I was going to be out the whole season,” Giddens said. “But working back for one game, and then finding out that you’re out, it was tough. It was about as tough as it gets.”
While Giddens’ senior season was a washout, he isn’t done playing football.
On Wednesday, during a signing-day ceremony at LaGrange High, Giddens signed a letter of intent to play football at Faulkner University in Alabama.
Giddens was one of five LaGrange players who signed a letter of intent.
The others were Breante “Tay” Glover (Western Carolina), Benny Gray (Ellsworth Community College), Tavone Rivers (Ellsworth Community College) and Wynton Heard (Alabama State).
Giddens said he’s “100 percent” healthy now, and he’s ready to go.
“I can’t wait to get out there with a team,” Giddens said. “I’m ready to get out there and start working with the other players.”
Even though Giddens didn’t play as a senior, he still received plenty of attention from college programs, and that’s a testament to his performance during his junior season when he threw for more than 3,000 yards and had more than 30 touchdowns.
Giddens helped lead the Grangers to the second round of the state playoffs and was an honorable mention all-state selection.
“That tells you the kind of year he had as a junior that he earned this,” LaGrange head coach Donnie Branch said. “There’s no telling what would have happened if he’d played his senior year. All things happen for a reason. And Faulkner must be the place for him. That’s where he’s supposed to be. The way it’s fallen, I’m really happy for him.”
Once Giddens visited Faulkner, he said he “just loved it,” and he also likes the fact that the offense is a pass-oriented one.
“I loved the way they throw the ball. They throw it almost every play,” Giddens said. “(The head coach) said about the only time they run the ball is on the bus and back on it.”
While Giddens was unable to play as a senior, Glover started all 10 games and was a defensive leader.
Glover, a three-year starter at linebacker, said he’s “very excited” about the chance to play at Western Carolina.
“It’s really a life-changing thing,” Glover said. “I know a lot of people don’t get this chance. I know I’m just blessed to have a chance to go to college and just keep pursuing my dream.”
Branch is happy to see Glover going to a school where he knows he’ll be well looked after.
“He’s going to a place where three guys on that staff are personal friends of mine. I know what kind of people that he’s going to play for,” Branch said. “That means you have guys who are going to be more than just the coach.”
Gray, a running back, and Rivers, a wide receiver, will be teammates at Ellsworth Community College, a two-year school in Iowa.
“Ellsworth is really excited about them. They love them,” Branch said. “Both of those guys had lower-tier Division I offers, and they’ve got two years to do what they need to do. Those guys were really productive players, but their best football is ahead of them. Their future is really, really bright. I’m anxious to see where they sign in two years.”
Heard, who filled in at quarterback for Giddens last season, will be crossing the state line to play for Alabama State.
“I’m very excited,” Heard said. “First of all, I’ve got to thank the man above. He blessed me with the talent, gave me the opportunity. I’m just so grateful to have anyone even considering me. It’s a big day.”
Heard was slated to be a wide receiver as a senior, but his role changed with Giddens unavailable.
Heard ended up with more than 1,800 yards of total offense last season.
“A lot of people like him at receiver, but he didn’t have good receiver film because he had to play quarterback,” Branch said. “When we were selling him, we said, watch him run, and see what he can do. They’ll figure out what he needs to do.”
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