Grangers take week off
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It was a good time for a week off.
The LaGrange Grangers beat Hampton 18-14 on Sept. 13, but it was a costly victory, with a handful of players going down with injuries.
Fortunately for LaGrange, it didn’t have a game last week as it prepares for the start of Region 5-AAAA play on Sept. 27 against Central-Carroll.
With the hard-earned victory over Hampton, LaGrange improved to 2-1, matching its win total from a year ago.
“My varsity guys, they need a vacation,” LaGrange head coach Chuck Gibbs said following the win over Hampton. “We played three games, and it already feels like November for us.”
LaGrange opened with an emotional 24-9 victory over a Heard County team that won the Class AA state championship last season.
In its first game in Callaway Stadium, LaGrange faced a 28-3 deficit after the first quarter on the way to a 56-10 loss to Callaway.
Against Hampton, LaGrange was pushed to the limit before hanging on for the 18-14 win.
The outcome wasn’t decided until defensive lineman Thad Dixon intercepted a pass with less than a minute remaining.
Charles Crawford threw touchdown passes to Dylan Norvell and Adrian Traylor, and Dawson Jones returned a fumble for a touchdown in the first half.
LaGrange’s defense was solid, holding Hampton to a little more than 200 yards while making some critical stands late in the game.
“They stepped up to the challenge,” Gibbs said. “We challenged them after a bad performance (against Callaway), a down performance last week, and they rose to the occasion.”
One of the players who went down with an injury was senior wide receiver Logan Karcher, who hurt his shoulder while making a phenomenal diving catch in the first half.
Quarterback Charles Crawford, meanwhile, broke a finger on his left hand, and suffered a deep cut on his head when he took a hit in the second half.
“His left finger was completely snapped. This finger was sideways. He broke at least one of them, if not both,” Gibbs said. “And the cut was so deep you could see bone.”
Yet Crawford only missed a few plays, and he made some critical plays to help his team get the home win.
“You can’t rip these kids,” Gibbs said. “When you see the perseverance of these kids, tonight kind of felt like the end of last year when it didn’t matter if we were winning or losing, we weren’t quitting. I love that attitude.”
LaGrange will look to build on the momentum from the Hampton game when it hosts Central-Carroll in its first region game. In a region that includes three teams ranked in the top five in the state, it’s a critical game for LaGrange.
After playing Cedartown on Oct. 4, LaGrange has a brutal three-game stretch against Cartersville, Troup and Sandy Creek.
Beating Central-Carroll would go a long way toward securing one of the region’s four spots in the state playoffs.
“We’ve got something coming,” said LaGrange junior Caleb Ross, who made some key plays on both sides of the ball. “All we’ve got to do is make some adjustments. We’ll be ready (for Central).”