Grangers striving to improve
Published 12:35 pm Saturday, June 8, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It was a season filled with what could have beens.
The LaGrange Grangers went 2-8 in 2018, but they weren’t far away from putting more wins on the board.
Four of the Grangers’ eight losses were by seven or fewer points, and they were competitive into the fourth quarter of two other games.
“We competed, and hats off to them, because that’s what I charged the seniors with,” said Chuck Gibbs, who is heading into his his second season as LaGrange’s head coach. “When
you’re in that many close games, you’ve done your job. Now we’ve had a heck of an offseason to get kids stronger.”
Gibbs’ hope is that some of those close games will go the other way this season.
In an attempt to make that a reality, LaGrange will be hard at work this summer leading up to the start of official preseason practice the final week in July.
The foundation of the summer program are the daily workouts and practices at the school.
The goal, Gibbs stressed, is to have everything in place by the time official practice commences on July 25.
“We’re in a spot now where we’re working about 75 minutes a day on individual drills, for both offense and defense,” Gibbs said. “By the time we start camp, our job is to make sure our kids have mastered the individual drills that they’re going to see throughout the year.”
Gibbs said the players will be on the field three days each week, with the exception of the dead week the week of July 4th.
Teams are prohibited by the Georgia High School Association from holding official team activities that week.
“We can get enough done Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday that the kids can have a four-day weekend,” Gibbs said. “They still have time for summer.”
Gibbs added that “we’re at a spot where the majority of our team will have 30 workouts this summer, before we even put pads on. If we can get those lifts in, and the practice on the field done, then we’ll be in a much better spot as a football team. Just because you’re in a better spot doesn’t mean you’ll win more games, because are opponents are working, too. So, our job is to make sure we don’t get out-worked by anyone.”
In addition to the workouts at the school, the Grangers will participate in seven-on-seven passing tournaments as well some 11-on-11 padded camps.
Also, many of LaGrange’s players will go to position camps across the Southeast.
A key focus of Gibbs’ since he took over has been on improving the strength program, and he has seen that effort pay major dividends.
“Last April we had one kid (Dexter Fitzpatrick) in the 1,000-pound club,” Gibbs said. “Now we’ve got 12, and we’re pushing to go somewhere between 15 and 18.”
Another offseason priority has been improving an offensive line that struggled at times last season.
“Our offensive line should be our most-improved unit from top to bottom,” Gibbs said. “Obviously that was our biggest glaring need last year.”
Will Flowers and Jonathan Sutton will be the leaders of the offensive line.
“(Flowers) killed the Mercer camp this weekend. He got invited to go down to Florida State’s offensive-line camp,” Gibbs said. “He and Sutton are going to Kennesaw State next week to do a padded camp. Again, that’s two solid, three-star lineman. That’s as much as we can ask for.”
The man those linemen will be blocking for is senior quarterback Charles Crawford, who Gibbs believes is on target for a breakout season, particularly with David Pleasants serving as his position coach.
Pleasants is a veteran coach who used to be at LaGrange, and he coached at LaGrange College last season.
“Coach Pleasants being here has helped him immensely,” Gibbs said. “I would go so far as to say if I’d been able to get coach Pleasants here a year ago, Charles would be on SEC radars.”
Gibbs also thinks LaGrange should be able to run the ball well with some talented running backs taking advantage of that improved offensive line.
“This will be the one year where I anticipate we’ll be able to get the nasty three yards,” Gibbs said. “We’re just going to straight up punch you in the mouth. We might not win every game, but those games are going to be very painful to other teams.”
With the season opener against Heard County a little more than two months away, Gibbs is eager to see what his team will do.
“I’m excited, because at least now we’re going to be more than relevant,” Gibbs said. “We’re going to be more than competitive. We’re going to compete, and remind teams of who we are.”
Aug. 15 – vs. Kendrick (preseason game)
Aug. 23 – at Heard County
Sept. 6 – vs. Callaway
Sept. 13 – vs. Hampton
Sept. 27 – vs. Central-Carroll
Oct. 4 – at Cedartown
Oct. 11 – vs. Cartersville
Oct. 18 – vs. Troup
Oct. 25 – at Sandy Creek
Nov. 1 – at Chapel Hill
Nov. 7 – vs. Shaw