Grangers get one more chance

Published 6:35 pm Thursday, October 26, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – They’re promised one more game, and LaGrange head coach Dialleo Burks hopes his players make the most of it.

It has been a tough season for LaGrange, which fell to 0-9 with last week’s 41-0 road loss to Sandy Creek.

LaGrange will wrap things up with a road game against Chapel Hill on Friday, and it needs a victory to avoid a winless season.

“We’ve got one more game, and it counts,” LaGrange head coach Dialleo Burks said. “It’s going on the stat sheet. It’ll be 0-10, or 1-9. That’s what we’re telling them.”

The Grangers felt they had a chance to get that elusive first win a week ago, but it didn’t happen.

Sandy Creek scored an early offensive touchdown and then returned an interception for a score, and the rout was on.

“Out of all the games, that’s the game where I thought we looked like a winless

team,” Burks said. “We just didn’t recover at all. We were out of sync offensively, and on defense. We did some good things, but just couldn’t sustain it.”

While LaGrange is playing for pride, Chapel Hill is fighting for a playoff spot.

Chapel Hill is 2-2 in Region 5-AAAA, and it can still finish as high as second in the region.

Before losing to Cartersville last week, Chapel Hill had beaten Sandy Creek and Central-Carroll in back-to-back games to get into playoff contention.

The region’s top four teams will qualify for the state playoffs, and the top two finishers will be at home for a first-round game.

For LaGrange, it has been a struggle since week one when it fell to Callaway 26-0.

The Grangers have been limited to 26 points this season, and they’ve been shut out six times.

Coming into the season, there was a sense of optimism among the players and coaches following what they felt was a productive summer, but it just hasn’t happened on the field.

“You watched us all summer, and during the offseason, we didn’t prepare like a winless team,” Burks said. “And it has you questioning yourself. So there’s some things that need to be re-evaluated, and changed. But in the grand scheme of things, it’ll be a different year next year. We’ll have different guys, we’ll be more experienced, it’ll be a different schedule. It won’t be the same situation. It’ll be completely different.”

Burks is proud of the way the players have handled themselves in some trying circumstances.

While one LaGrange player did get ejected from last week’s game against Sandy Creek, incidents like that have been rare.

“I tell them before you go into any game, we’re going to get the best out of everybody, period,” Burks said. “We’re going to act a certain way. And guys have done a good job of sticking to that.”

Burks added that “I’ve seen some winless teams that have had problems. It can really be a mess. And we haven’t had that.”

Burks also complimented his assistant coaches for remaining positive throughout the season.

“We talked about that Sunday,” Burks said. “I congratulated our staff for being on point, and doing what they’re supposed to do.”

Chapel Hill is led by junior quarterback Kj Burton.

Burton has thrown for 885 yards with nine touchdowns, and he also had 531 rushing yards with 10 touchdowns.

Tyre Shelton has caught 23 passes for 445 yards with four touchdowns, and Joshua Milford has run for 398 yards with four touchdowns.

For LaGrange, the biggest issue has been an inability to find any offensive consistency.

That was the case against Sandy Creek, with LaGrange managing 30 yards and four first downs.

One of LaGrange’s top play-makers is junior wide receiver Jordan Ogletree, who is closing in on 20 catches with a touchdown.

Senior Cornell Kendrick headlines the rushing attack, and he ran for 112 yards and had a touchdown against Cedartown.

Junior defensive back  Vondez Taylor is LaGrange’s leading tackler, and linebackers Dexter Fitzpatrick and Daz Williams have both had productive seasons.


WHEN: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Chapel Hill

RECORDS: LaGrange (0-9 overall, 0-5 in Region 5-AAAA); Chapel Hill (5-3 overall, 2-2 in Region 5-AAAA)