LaGrange senior shines in loss
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
Whatever his coach needed, that’s what LaGrange’s Dexter Fitzpatrick was willing to do.
Heading into last week’s game against Cedartown, LaGrange was short-handed because of suspensions and injuries.
The Grangers needed someone to fill in at fullback, and head coach Chuck Gibbs called on Fitzpatrick, a standout linebacker, to fill that void.
“We came into the game a little short-handed, so it was the next man up,” Fitzpatrick said. “They felt I could fill that fullback slot, so I just stepped in there and learned the plays.”
Fitzpatrick had three carries for 13 yards, while serving as a lead blocker on a number of other plays.
Fitzpatrick also played the entire game on defense, and has been the case since the season opener against Heard County, he was phenomenal.
Fitzpatrick had 23 tackles, including four for loss, in the 9-6 loss.
While the season has been a tough one for the Grangers, who are 1-4 following last week’s close loss.
Fitzpatrick, a senior, hasn’t grown discouraged, even as the losses have mounted.
LaGrange went 2-8 during Fitzpatrick’s sophomore year, and the team endured a winless season a year ago.
Now, Fitzpatrick is part of a team that has one victory at the halfway point of the regular season, but he continues to go out each week and give it all he’s got.
Through five games, Fitzpatrick has 106 tackles, including 15.5 for loss
“I want to thank God for me being able to play this sport,” Fitzpatrick said. “I feel like we’re playing hard. We’re setting an example for the younger kids to learn how to fight.”
While the wins haven’t been there, Fitzpatrick and his teammates on defense have been thriving.
The Grangers haven’t given up more than 14 points in a game, and they’ve only allowed six second-half points all season.
Cedartown drove for a touchdown on its opening possession last week, but it’s offense was held scoreless the rest of the way.
Cedartown’s final two points came on a safety.
Junior linebacker Qua Bowles led LaGrange with 24 tackles, including two for loss, and senior defensive back Jakoby Smith had 17 tackles.
Andraka Martin, who teams with Fitzpatrick and Bowles to create a formidable trio at linebacker, had 15 tackles with four for loss.
Jarno Huzzie was also in double digits with 11 tackles, Mon’darius Beasley had nine tackles, and Vondez Taylor had eight tackles, with two for loss.
Mikal Younkins, Jacquez Smith, Jonathan Sutton and Thaddeus Dixon each had a sack.
While the defense continued to excel, LaGrange is still searching for answers on offense.
The Grangers were limited to 129 total yards, and their points came on field goals by Jimmy Cancino and Matt Rainey.
Close to half of LaGrange’s yards came on one play, a 55-yard completion from Charles Crawford to Mikal Younkins.
While it was a losing night, the Grangers were there once again with an opportunity to win, which has been the case in all five games.
“We’re going to fight until the end,” Fitzpatrick said. “We’ve only given up six points in the second half all season. There’s something special about this team. They better watch out when we click.”
Things don’t get any easier for LaGrange, which is on the road against Cartersville on Friday before facing Troup next week.
“It makes you feel good that you know you’ve got kids that aren’t quitting in life,” Gibbs said. “But somehow, someway, we’ve got to find a way. We’ve got talent at every key spot, and the opportunity to get them the football. I’ve got to go back and consult with our staff, and relook.”