Grangers stand tall in spring game

Published 5:54 pm Sunday, May 20, 2018


Daily News

They took care of business.

The LaGrange Grangers, looking to bounce back from a difficult 2017 season, delivered an impressive performance in the first half of Friday’s spring football game against Manchester.

While the defense held Manchester to one first down, the offense put a pair of touchdowns on the board as LaGrange surged to a 14-0 halftime lead.

In the second half, when it was mostly the backups on the field, Manchester scored a pair of touchdowns to pull even.

Manchester had the ball in the closing moments with a chance to take the lead, but LaGrange’s defense made a goal-line stand, and the game ended in a 14-14 tie.

Offensively, the Grangers scored touchdowns on a pass from Sammy Caputo to Dylan Norvell, and on a run by Laracco Glaze.

LaGrange’s defense was suffocating in the first half when the starters were in the game.

The Blue Devils were unable to get anything going offensively, and they were limited to 35 yards and one first down in the opening half.

“I knew we had a good defense, and we put together a good unit with our 11,” said Chuck Gibbs, LaGrange’s first-year head coach. “We call them the war daddies.”

At the half, Gibbs decided that he would pull most of the starters, and let them feel good about their effort.

“I went in and said we’re going to sub the seconds on defense,” Gibbs said. “Don’t worry about the score. I want to send you guys out not having surrendered a point, and having played salty. So we started subbing our first series of the third quarter.”

In the second half, Manchester began to fine some offensive success, and it scored two touchdowns.

“Inevitably when you’re playing the Wing T, and you’re a team that’s as well coached as Manchester is, you’re going to miss assignments,” Gibbs said.

LaGrange’s offense moved the ball well in the first half, even though the playbook was kind of thin.

“We ran one offensive run play the whole game,” Gibbs said. “So it was one of those where we knew we were going to be extremely limited coming in. But, we felt like we needed to teach it, and rep it, and rep it, and rep it, so that we could start to forge our identity, and I’ve got to say I loved the way our guys competed today.”

LaGrange’s first touchdown was set up by a fumble recovery and return by Robert Thornton in the first quarter.

After an 8-yard run by Myles Johnson, it looked like the Grangers had scored when Sammy Caputo threw a touchdown pass to Mikal Younkins, a senior tight end.

That played was wiped out by a penalty, but the Grangers scored anyway two plays later.

Caputo rolled out to his left, and he spotted a wide-open Dylan Norvell in the end zone.

Norvell made the catch, and the Grangers led 7-0 after the extra point.

The Grangers added another touchdown with less than a minute remaining in the first half, with Glaze ripping off a 26-yard scoring run, and it was a 14-0 game.

Caputo and Crawford rotated at quarterback in the first half, and they both did an effective job of leading the offense.

Glaze and Myles Johnson ran the ball well, and Koby Patton, Younkins and Norvell caught passes from the two quarterbacks.

Beyond the Xs and Os of the game, Gibbs was also focusing on making sure his players showed proper sportsmanship, which is something he said he’ll be stressing.

“It was a little disappointed. We had one unsportsmanlike penalty,” Gibbs said. “You want to get the poison out of the locker room. And I really try to encourage our kids when you hear the whistle, let’s reach down and build bridges, whether it’s a live game, or a scrimmage game, or a practice game. And we’ll get better at those things, because I think those are hallmarks and attributes that championship teams have, that we not only love each other, but we honor and respect our opponents.”

LaGrange will take a two-week break before beginning its summer schedule.

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