Big night for LaGrange’s Smith

Published 11:46 pm Monday, October 16, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – As the LaGrange Grangers took on the state’s top-ranked Class AAAA team, all Jakoby Smith could do was watch.

When LaGrange faced Cartersville, which has won two consecutive state championships, Smith was unable to go because of an injury, and his absence was felt.

Smith, a junior, has developed into a standout defensive back, and he was looking forward to the challenge of playing quarterback Trevor Lawrence and his Cartersville teammates.

A week later when LaGrange played Troup, which also featured a high-powered passing game, Smith was on the field, and he made his presence felt in a major way with two first-half interceptions.

The second of those two interceptions came on a remarkable leaping catch in the second quarter, and it was a play that helped LaGrange’s defense keep Troup’s offense scoreless in the first half.

The game got away from the Grangers in the second half, with the Tigers going on to win 38-0, but Smith was happy to be out there with his teammates, even if the outcome wasn’t what he was hoping for.

“I couldn’t wait for this game, because I didn’t get to play (against Cartersville),” Smith said. “I hurt my groin. I was mad.”

Smith’s first significant playing time as a varsity player came at the quarterback position.

As a sophomore, Smith was one of the men tasked with filling in at quarterback while LaPerion Perry recovered from hip surgery, and he ably manned the position.

Heading into this season, Smith was competing to be the starting quarterback, but that job went to Charles Crawford.

Smith did play quarterback when Crawford was out with an injury earlier this season, but he has been strictly a defensive player for the past few games.

Smith has embraced that role.

“I love playing defensive back,” Smith said. “It’s a whole lot of fun. I just love being out there anywhere.”

It has been a difficult season for the Grangers, who head into the final two weeks of their season looking for their first win, but Smith and his teammates have hung in there and never stopped trying to improve.

“I’m proud of me and my teammates,” Smith said. “We fight until the end, no matter what the score is. We compete.”

Most of LaGrange’s starters and key contributors are set to return, and Smith’s hope is that everything they’ve gone through this year will pay dividends down the road.

“I feel like it’ll make us better next season, and it’ll help us in life,” Smith said. “You can’t give up. You’ve got to fight until the end.”

LaGrange will visit Sandy Creek on Friday before finishing its season with a game at Chapel Hill on Oct. 27.