LaGrange eyes breakthrough win
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
Is this the week?
The LaGrange Grangers have hung tough with two high-quality teams to open the season, but they lost to Heard County 10-3, and Callaway 14-0.
On Friday, LaGrange will try to collect its first win of the season and end a 17-game losing streak that dates to 2016.
LaGrange will be on the road against Hampton, which is 1-1 after beating Fayette County 15-7 and losing to Sandy Creek 38-7.
While LaGrange has yet to win a game, there were bright spots in the losses to Heard and Callaway, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
LaGrange kept two high-powered offenses in check while not allowing a point in the second half of either game.
The issue has been an offense that has been limited to three points in two games.
LaGrange had more success moving the ball against Callaway than it did against Heard, but it was unable to put any points on the scoreboard.
LaGrange’s best scoring opportunity came when it was deep in Callaway territory in the fourth quarter, but that drive ended with an interception.
Chuck Gibbs, LaGrange’s first-year head coach, said it’s all about execution with the offense.
“They’ve got to understand that I am more pleased with a one to 2-yard gain where we blocked the right people and executed against a better opponent, than I am with the 10-yard gain where the kid just made a great play but we didn’t execute,” Gibbs said.
LaGrange had more than 200 yards of offense against Callaway.
Quarterback Charles Crawford completed 8-of-12 passes for 110 yards, and Laracco Glaze ran for 60 yards on 16 carries.
In the second half in particular the Grangers started to find success offensively, even though they didn’t score.
“We moved the ball better Friday night,” Gibbs said. “We executed better.”
Defensively, it was another lock-down performance by the Grangers.
Senior defensive back Jakoby Smith had a monster game with 17 tackles and an interception.
Another member of the secondary, Vondez Taylor, had eight tackles.
Those numbers are especially noteworthy considering there was a question as to whether Smith and Taylor would play.
“They were both game-time decisions,” Gibbs said. “They had not practiced all week because of injuries. And they both played, and both of them finished the game.”
Dexter Fitzpatrick had 15 tackles, including three for loss, and he has 32 tackles in two games.
Fellow linebackers Andraka Martin and Qua Bowles had 13 and 11 tackles, respectively.
Martin also had two of LaGrange’s seven sacks, and he and Mikal Younkins both recovered fumbles.
Jacquez Smith and Robert Thornton both forced fumbles.
LaGrange’s opponent today is a Hampton team that has some play-makers.
Leading the way is senior running back Jaquari Smith has 164 yards on just 16 carries, and he had a 25-yard touchdown run against Fayette County.
Quarterbacks Terrance Hill and Jaivion Dorris have only combined for 44 passing yards, but Gibbs said the Grangers need to be on the lookout for deep balls.
“Hampton’s got the ability to get the ball deep on us,” Gibbs said. “So we’ll have to mix up some coverages, and disguise some stuff, and see if we can trap them.”
Hampton runs a triple-option offense, so Gibbs said “there are a lot of opportunities to create take-aways and get the ball on the turf.”
Offensively, Gibbs believes the opportunities will be there to make some big plays.
“We’ll hit a couple just based on the fact that they’ll take the wrong risk at the wrong time,” Gibbs said.
LAGRANGE VS. HAMPTON
WHEN: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
RECORDS: LaGrange (0-2); Hampton (1-1)