LaGrange football team ready to roll

Published 12:31 pm Wednesday, August 14, 2019


Daily News

It’s time to take a test run.

With a new season set to begin in a little more than a week, the LaGrange Grangers will share the turf of Callaway Stadium with the Kendrick Cherokees on Thursday in a preseason game, with kickoff set for 7 p.m.

LaGrange begins playing for keeps on Aug. 23 with the regular-season opener at Heard County, which won the Class AA state championship last year.

First up will be Thursday’s scrimmage, which head coach Chuck Gibbs hopes will prepare his players for the showdown with Heard County.

“We’re going to take our first and second, and some of our third-team kids, and they’re going to play,” Gibbs said. “We’ve got to get everyone conditioned, and game ready. It’s going to be a cooker. We’ve got to get ready for Heard, and coach (Tim) Barron’s done a great job up there. I know they’ve lost a lot of kids, but they’re plug and play, and they’ve reloaded.”

Like every team, the Grangers’ practice plans have been interrupted somewhat by the heat.

If the wet-bulb readings reach a certain level, players have to practice without pads, and in extreme circumstances they can’t be outside.

On Monday, for instance, the Grangers started practicing inside of the gym before they were able to move outside.

“Yesterday we were inside until the wet bulb dropped,” Gibbs said. “When it dropped down, we started heading out with no pads, and when it dropped again we put on pads and practiced for an hour and a half.”

Despite the occasional weather interruptions, Gibbs feels it’s been a productive offseason for the Grangers.

After a busy summer, the Grangers began official preseason practice on July 25, and they’ve been going at it hard since then.

“We’ve hopped around,” Gibbs said. “We’ve worked a tremendous practice tempo, where we haven’t had to do a lot of after-practice conditioning. We’re in pretty good football shape, considering we’re on practice 11. We haven’t done a whole bunch of outside conditioning. That frees us up to do more football stuff in the afternoon instead of worrying about weight training.”

In addition to the practices, LaGrange also held its ironman competition, which includes 10 different events.

The ironman winner was Kale Gibbs, a junior running back and coach Gibbs’ son.

Coach Gibbs is proud of the effort Kale Gibbs put in during the summer when he had perfect attendance at summer workouts.

“Showing up every day for workouts doesn’t take talent, it takes dedication,” coach Gibbs said. “It takes putting the team before yourself, certainly in the summer when you want to sleep in.”

Other top ironman finishers were seniors Will Flowers, Qua Bowles, Charles Miller, Andre Canty, Toireon Boone, Jamari Cameron, Charles Crawford and Cole Crawford along with juniors AJ Traylor and Jarno Huzzie.

It hasn’t been all work for the Grangers.

Last week, the team participated in a spirit night at Sweetland Ampitheatre.

The event served as a kickoff celebration for the Grangers, with hundreds of community members attending.

The LaGrange High team was introduced, as were the players on the Gardner Newman football team.

“To me, it was just community outreach,” Gibbs said. “It was fun. We had a really good time. It was enjoyable, and I think it was much-needed. It was pouring back into the community.”

Gibbs particularly enjoyed a chance to get wet after a challenging practice on a hot and humid day.

“I was able to go straight from practice to the dunking booth,” Gibbs said with a grin.

After Thursday’s game, LaGrange will begin what it hopes will be a turn-around regular season.

A year ago, the Grangers were 2-8, and they were on the wrong end of a handful of close games.

Four of LaGrange’s losses were by a combined 14 points, and that included a 10-3 loss to Heard County, which went on to win a state title.

LaGrange was also competitive in a 14-0 loss to Callaway, and a 35-14 setback against LaGrange.

A talented group of returnees, including senior quarterback Charles Crawford, will try to help LaGrange improve on its record this season.

“I’m excited for the kids, I’m really excited for Crawford,” Gibbs said. “He’s come on and has an opportunity to absolutely light it up.”