LaGrange faces tough road test
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
Another week, another close call for the LaGrange Grangers.
The Grangers fell to 1-5 with last week’s loss to the Cedartown Bulldogs, but as has been the case in every game they’ve played, they had an opportunity to win.
LaGrange pulled within three on a field goal in the fourth quarter, but it was Cedartown hanging on for a 9-6 victory.
LaGrange has dropped its past two games by a total of six points, and four of its five losses have been by seven or fewer points.
Even in a 14-0 loss to Callaway, LaGrange had the ball inside the 10-yard line late with a chance to get within a seven, but an interception in the end zone ended that threat.
Unfortunately for the Grangers, the schedule doesn’t lighten up anytime soon.
LaGrange’s next two games are against Cartersville and Troup, who are a combined 12-0.
First up is Friday’s road game against Cartersville, which hasn’t lost a regular-season game since the second game of the 2014 season.
Next week the opponent will be Troup, which is 6-0 and has one of the highest-scoring teams in the state.
“We’re going to be in every football game,” LaGrange head coach Chuck Gibbs said following the hard-fought loss to Cedartown “The kids don’t quit. You know they’ve got a championship spirit inside.”
The Grangers have been in these games because of a defense that continues to excel.
LaGrange hasn’t given up more than 14 points in a game, and it has only surrendered six second-half points in five games.
Cedartown scored on its opening possession, but it didn’t have any more points on offense the rest of the game.
LaGrange will try to continue that pattern this week, although it won’t be easy against a Cartersville team that is 6-0 and is averaging 42 points per game.
“We’ve given up six points in the second half this whole year,” Gibbs said. “I’m sure that’s going to change, because it gets harder from here.”
Cartersville, despite losing
quarterback Trevor Lawrence to Clemson, has continued to thrive.
Junior Tee Webb has taken over at quarterback, and he has thrown for 1,126 yards in five games.
Last week against Central-Carroll, Webb completed 16-of-20 passes for 270 yards with a pair of touchdowns.
Marcus Gary headlines the running game with 323 yards and seven touchdowns, and he also has 13 catches for 202 yards with three touchdowns.
Cartersville’s high-powered offense will be put to the test against LaGrange.
Senior linebacker Dexter Fitpatrick has a remarkable 106 tackles, and junior linebacker Qua Bowles has 85 tackles.
Senior defensive back Jakoby Smith and junior linebacker Andraka Martin each has 64 tackles.
Senior safety Vondez Taylor has 45 tackles, and sophomore linebacker Jarno Huzzie has 36 tackles.
The issue for the Grangers has been getting things going on offense.
LaGrange has been held to 146 yards per game, and it has two touchdowns in six games.
“We’re scrambling to find an offensive rhythm for what’s going to work, and we’re trying to get our offensive play-makers open,” Gibbs said. “I thought (the Cedartown) defensive scheme was great. They took away two or three things that we wanted to do.”
While proud of the way his players are competing, Gibbs desperately wants to see the hard work they’re putting in result in a victory.
“It just breaks your heart when they can’t finish,” Gibbs said. “They’re your kids.”
LAGRANGE VS. CARTERSVILLE
WHEN: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
RECORDS: LaGrange (1-5 overall, 0-2 in Region 5-AAAA); Cartersville (6-0 overall, 2-0 in Region 5-AAAA)
LAST MEETING: Cartersville beat LaGrange 56-0 last year