Grangers eye region win

Published 10:49 pm Wednesday, September 20, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – It was a much-needed break.

After four challenging non-region games to begin the season, the LaGrange Grangers were off last week as they prepared for the start of Region 5-AAAA play.

LaGrange will begin its region schedule with a home game against Central-Carroll on Friday, and it will be homecoming.

“We were able to solidify some things we’ve been looking at the last couple of weeks,” LaGrange head coach Dialleo Burks said. “We’ve got pretty much all of our guys back. They’re healthy. Also, we had chances to just get away, to relax just a little bit, and just re-focus.”

Burks added that “we’ve had some pretty good practices this week, despite the heat. They battled through it.”

The season has been a struggle so far.

In losses to Callaway, Villa Rica, Griffin and East Coweta, LaGrange has been outscored 149-10.

Those four teams have a combined record of 14-2, so the schedule has not been kind to the Grangers.

“We’re not playing any slouches,” Burks said.

There has been a lot of on-the-job training for many of the Grangers who are getting significant playing time on the varsity level for the first time.

With the season now four games old, Burks said it’s time for those players to take the next step.

“We’ve played four games, and nobody wants to hear that we’re young anymore,” Burks said. “I’m not going to let you use that one. You’ve played in a game, you’ve gotten experience, you’ve seen what it’s like. Now it’s time to go out and get it.”

There were some bright spots in the most recent game, a 42-10 loss to East Coweta.

The Grangers had their best offensive game of the season, accumulating close to 200 yards while putting points on the board for the first time.

In the first half, Matt Rainey made a field goal, and Jakoby Smith threw a touchdown pass to Jordan Ogletree.

Smith completed 7-of-18 passes for 87 yards with the touchdown, and Ogletree had four catches for 53 yards.

Running back Trez Delaney had five carries for 37 yards, and that included a 28-yard run, and he also caught two passes for 26 yards.

Cornell Kendrick had 19 yards on five carries, and Myles Johnson ran for 17 yards on six attempts.

Defensively, Vondez Taylor and Daz Williams each had five tackles, and Dezhaun Artis, Jequavious Bowles and Taj Hixson had four tackles apiece.

“We found some areas where we had some success (against East Coweta),” Burks said. “That’s what we wanted to see. You want to see your team going uphill. We were able to put some drives together.”

Sophomore DeAundre Towns got some snaps at quarterback in the second half, and he completed one of-two passes for five yards, and he had one carry for one yard.

That’s significant because Towns will get the start at quarterback on Friday.

Towns, who transferred from Greenville, played in the second half of a preseason game against Heard County, and he led LaGrange on two touchdown drives.

Towns had a touchdown run, and he also threw a scoring pass to DJ Burks.

At the time, Towns hadn’t been in the program long, and Burks said he was still learning the offense.

“That was just talent (against Heard County),” Burks said. “It wasn’t anything like what the offense is. It was just drop back, and just go.”

That preseason game was on Aug. 4, so Towns has had plenty of time to learn the system and become comfortable, and Burks said he has had a tremendous week of practice.

“He’s looked fabulous this week,” Burks said. “He’s going to be the starter.”

Charles Crawford began the season as the starting quarterback, but he has been out of action the past two games because of a concussion.

“There’s no rushing him back,” Burks said. “We’re going to follow protocol to a T.”

This will be the Grangers’ fourth game at Callaway Stadium, and Burks said he’s appreciative of the support the team has received.

No matter the score, a vocal student section has stayed in place from the first snap to the last one, and Burks said that means a lot to the team.

“To see those guys, and the band, and the parents still there cheering, I told them, fellows, we’re on track,” Burks said. “I told them I want you to go tell them thank you.”

Now, the obvious goal is to give the fans a chance to enjoy a victory for the first time this season.

“Hopefully we’ll get that this Friday,” Burks said. “It would be huge.”