Productive few days for Grangers

Published 10:51 am Wednesday, July 24, 2019


Daily News

It was a valuable two days for the LaGrange Grangers.

The Grangers put the wraps on the summer portion of their schedule by hosting an 11-on-11 padded camp on Monday and Tuesday at Callaway Stadium.

The Grangers had a busy summer between workouts at the school, seven-on-seven passing competitions, and individual position camps.

LaGrange also took part in a handful of padded camps, and head coach Chuck Gibbs believes they were as helpful as anything the team did during the summer.

The Georgia High School Association allows teams to participate in padded camps on six different days, and LaGrange took full advantage of that.

“Seven-on-sevens are good, but 11-on-11s, you absolutely can not beat it,” said Gibbs, who is heading into his second season as LaGrange’s head coach. “When the state says six days’ worth, we get six days’ worth.”

As the Grangers make the transition to the official start of preseason practice on Thursday, Gibbs believes the team is well ahead of last year’s pace, and he gives the padded camps some credit for that.

“We are right now where we were at our bye week last year after Hampton (in week three),” Gibbs said. “Our football team could go right now and play a better game offensively and defensively than we could have after our Hampton break, and the season hasn’t started yet. You have to pony it up to having a plan, practicing the plan, coming and practicing against a team where you can’t script what they do on offense and defense, and how do we execute that, and what does that look like. That’s where the value in these is just immeasurable.”

Gibbs added that “these camps, when the coaches steward them well, make the difference in why Georgia football is better than the other states.”

Last week, LaGrange was at Buford High for a two-day padded camp.

“It was a time for our kids to get away, to go up there and compete against AAAAAA and AAAAAAA schools,” Gibbs said. “You get to go two days in a row against Westlake and see we’re competing against teams that are better than most of the teams we’re playing against (during the season).”

LaGrange’s annual ironman competition will begin on Thursday, which is also the first official day of preseason practice according to the Georgia High School Association calendar.

The ironman competition, which in past years has been held over two days, will continue on Friday and conclude on Saturday. Gibbs felt the change from two days to three days was necessary because of how hard the players went at it during this week’s camp.

“We’re doing ours over three days, only because we knew their bodies were going to be beat up from these two days, which they are,” Gibbs said. “When I get a report from our trainer and she’s seen 13 kids, that’s a good sign, because we’re hitting.”

Gibbs said managing a team from summer, to preseason practice, and through the season is a balancing act.

“It’s going to be a long year for a lot of kids,” Gibbs said. “It’s how you handle injuries, how you handle tempo, how you handle contact. There’s a strategy behind that now. I think it comes into play, can you still win football games, but you don’t want to peak too soon.”

LaGrange has a preseason game on Aug. 15 against Kendrick, and it opens the regular season on Aug. 23 at Heard County.