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Preseason practice gets started

By Kevin Eckleberry

kevin.eckleberry@lagrangenews.com

LAGRANGE – A little rain wasn’t going to slow down the local football teams.

Tuesday was the first official day of preseason practice according to the Georgia High School Association calendar, and the Callaway Cavaliers, LaGrange Grangers and Troup Tigers were all on the field.

It was a drizzly morning as Troup and LaGrange began their first preseason practices, and the rain had stopped by the time Callaway hit the field in the afternoon.

All three teams will maintain the same practice schedule for the remainder of the week.

Teams in the state can begin holding full-contact practices on Aug. 1, and the regular season will begin less than three weeks after that.

Troup gets things started with a home game against Hardaway on Aug. 17, and Callaway and LaGrange play on Aug. 18.

All three teams also have preseason games.

LaGrange is first up with a home game against Heard County on Aug. 4, which is three days after the first full-contact practice.

Troup will host Harris County on Aug. 10, and Callaway and Northside-Columbus will play in Hogansville on Aug. 11.

LaGrange’s players made their way across the street to Granger Park on Tuesday morning for Day 1 of official preseason practice.

The Grangers were on the field for two hours under the watchful eyes of head coach Dialleo Burks and the other members of his staff.

The Grangers are coming off a difficult 2-8 season, but like every other team in the state, the start of preseason practice offers a fresh start.

“Everybody starts out, Day 1, on the same level,” said Burks, who is heading into his fourth season as the Grangers’ head coach. “Everybody is the same. After each day goes on, that’s when the separation starts to occur.”

Whatever the season holds, Burks said the key for his players will be to make the most of every moment.

“What we do is, we try to win in something every day,” Burks said. “You can’t let the whole day go to waste. You try to win some part of the day. That’s all you can ask for.”

Callaway is coming off the best season in school history.

The Cavaliers went 13-1 and set a school record for wins in a season, and they reached the Class AA final four before losing to Benedictine.

Expectations are high once again for the Cavaliers, with a talented 19-man senior class leading the way.

“I see the excitement in the kids, year after year, and the kids have worked hard,” said Pete Wiggins, Callaway’s head coach since 2005. “And that hard work begins long ago. Kids work hard in the weight room, from an early age, and particularly your seniors. You just see an excitement in them. And they know, this is our senior year, this is it. There’s an eagerness to go to work.”

Troup is also coming off a successful season.

The Tigers struggled to a 1-9 record in 2015, but they enjoyed a remarkable turnaround a year ago and went 8-3.

“Overall, we’re moving around pretty good,” said Tanner Glisson, Troup’s third-year head coach. “Our bodies look good. But we’ve still got a long ways to go. But that’s every year.

“It’s a new team, and we can’t live on what we did last year. We’ve got to coach this team, the 2017 team.”

Also this week, the Lafayette Christian School Cougars are jumping into preseason practice with a week-long camp at the school.

The players are practicing twice a day, and they’ll spending the night at the school.

The camp ends with an intra-squad scrimmage on Friday.