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Grangers push through in ironman

LAGRANGE – With his teammates there for support, Charles Ray attempted to join the club.

During LaGrange’s ironman competition, there are three weight-lifting events, and those who accumulate enough pounds become a part of the 1,000-pound club.

On Thursday afternoon in the LaGrange High main gym, Ray prepared for his final lift, and he was five pounds short of 1,000.

As Ray got in position, dozens of his teammates surrounded him and offed their vocal support.

With music blaring in the background, Ray made it happen, and he became the seventh and final Granger to make it to 1,000 pounds.

It was an inspirational parting shot for the three-day ironman competition, and it was a nice way for the Grangers to put the wraps on their summer season.

LaGrange will begin official preseason practice on Monday as it prepares for a season that is one month away.

Sam Honeyman, LaGrange’s defensive coordinator, said the manner in which the players rallied around Ray is indicative of the way they have approached things this summer.

“It’s a much different feel than when I got here last year right around this time,” said Honeyman, who is in his second season on the LaGrange staff. “It’s a different feel, of the guys wanting to do more stuff together outside of football. And they’re challenging each other, which is really where you need to start to get.”

On the final day of the ironman, Honeyman was encouraged to see some of the players achieve something they didn’t think was possible.

“Coming into this morning, we told some of the guys, this is what you need to get to 1,000 pounds,” Honeyman said. “Some of them, that wasn’t even their goal. In their mind, they were so far below what they could do.”

With the encouragement of their teammates and coaches, though, they were able to make it happen.

“They’ve worked past that block in their minds what they think they can’t do,” Honeyman said. “So that was a huge step in the buy-in process today. It was a really good day for us. It was awesome.”

The 2016 season wasn’t a whole lot of fun for the Grangers, who struggled to a 2-8 record while going winless in their five region games.

It’s a new year, though, and the Grangers will look to have more reasons to smile in the coming months.

Honeyman is hopeful what the team has done during the summer program will pay dividends when the season commences.

“We asked those guys to trust us at the beginning of the summer,” Honeyman said after watching Ray pull off his milestone lift. “We changed some things. And now, today was the first part of the payoff. Hopefully a good portion of that will carry over into the season. We’re excited about the way the process has been.”

Honeyman said there has been no shortage of enthusiasm from the players throughout the summer.

“Sometimes, we have to say whoa,” Honeyman said. “Sometimes it’s easier to say whoa than it is to say giddy-up. So with these guys, we have to do that, which makes it fun. And they’re having fun, and they’re learning how to do the work, and the fun that comes with it.”

Honeyman added that “it’s been a process, and we’re really moving in that right direction. Everybody’s going along with it. We’re getting there, for sure.”

One of the men who became a part of the 1,000-pound club, running back Cornell Kendrick, said he and the other veterans have tried to lead by example.

“You’ve got to work hard,” Kendrick said. “We’re just trying to get better.”

In two weeks, LaGrange will be on the field for a preseason game against Heard County, and it will open the season on Aug. 18 against Callaway.

“We’re going to strap up, and it’ll be fun to go against a team like Heard County that’s got some great players, and really measure where we’re at,” Honeyman said. “We’ll get after it for four quarters, and I think our guys are going to be happy with how far they’ve come.”