Work goes on for Grangers
By Kevin Eckleberry
LAGRANGE – They’re heart-broken and distraught, but there is still a season to prepare for.
On Saturday, tragedy struck the LaGrange High football team when freshman Nar’Quevious Tucker died following an incident during a team activity in the LaGrange College pool.
While the players and coaches deal with that, they’re still having to get ready for a new season that is less than three weeks away.
LaGrange will, in fact, be on the field on Friday for a preseason game against Heard County in Franklin.
LaGrange opens the regular season on Aug. 18 against Callaway.
On Tuesday, the players were in full pads for the first time following a week of conditioning, and LaGrange head coach Dialleo Burks was pleased with how things went.
“We were upbeat,” Burks said on Tuesday evening at Callaway Stadium after the official team photo was taken. “We had a nice, upbeat practice today. The guys came out and worked, we had a nice weight-lifting session. It was real good.”
Burks added that “we understand that we’re in a healing process right now. It’s a thin line, but at the same time, we’re teaching them that you still have a job to do. We’re just taking our time.”
Burks said he has been impressed with how the players, including those who knew Tucker best, have dealt with the situation.
“It’s tough when it’s right there on your back porch, and you’re that close to it,” Burks said. “But the guys, they have handled it very well. At the same time, we understand that they’re 13, 14, 15-year-old guys, too.”
Burks believes having a game to get ready for has benefited the players.
“It’s kind of good that we do have a game this week,” Burks said. “We’ve been doing a good job of housing them all together, and they’ve been embracing that, being there together and having fun together. It says a lot about them, character-wise.”
Still, it’s obviously a lot for the players to cope with, and Burks said the people at the school, including athletic director Mike Pauley and principal Alton White, have been extremely helpful.
“We’ve surrounded them with the help they need,” Burks said. “Mr. White, coach Pauley, they’ve done a fabulous job, and we’ve had the counselors, and the assistant principals, they’ve been very hands-on in this situation.”
The incident occurred Saturday, and by early Sunday morning the coaches and players knew that Tucker was gone.
“I had to make the call (to Tucker’s mother Carrsellea),” Burks said. “She was very calm, and throughout the process we have talked, and shared thoughts. It’s a phenomenal family. For what has happened, we were able to go and just be together as a family.”
As for Tucker, Burks said “he was a joy,” and that he will always be a part of the Granger family.
LaGrange will be back at practice today and Thursday before making the trip to Heard County for the preseason game. LaGrange will then have two weeks before opening the regular season against Callaway.