Region time for Grangers

Published 11:13 am Thursday, September 26, 2019


Daily News

The LaGrange Grangers haven’t made it to the state playoffs since 2014.

If LaGrange is going to reverse that trend this season, a win over the Central-Carroll Lions on Friday night would help a lot.

It is the Region 5-AAAA opener for LaGrange and Central-Carroll, who are both hopeful of securing one of the region’s four spots in the state playoffs.

For LaGrange, it’s been tough going in region play in recent years.

LaGrange has dropped 17 straight region games since beating Central-Carroll in 2016.

LaGrange has a chance to end that skid on Friday, but head coach Chuck Gibbs is expecting a tough challenge from Central-Carroll, which is led by coach Darius Smiley.

Central-Carroll evened its record at 2-2 with last week’s 33-14 victory over Heard County.

Gibbs is particularly impressed by a veteran Central-Carroll defense.

“Defensively, I think they’ve got eight of their 11 back. They hit hard, they run,” Gibbs said. “They’re not world-beaters, but they’re a sound group of kids, and they play really hard. Those scare me more than the teams with elite talent that don’t play hard. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work. They work.”

Offensively, Central-Carroll is led by quarterback Kashif Taylor, who transferred from Carrollton High.

Taylor has thrown for 567 yards with six touchdowns, and he also has 171 rushing yards with two touchdowns.

Braden Dunson leads Central-Carroll’s ground attack with 344 yards and three touchdowns, and he’s run for more than 100 yards twice this season.

“What stands out the most on film is they’re very well-coached,” Gibbs said. “I think they play with a much bigger chip on their shoulder than they did last year. They’ve got some key players that have transferred in that are fitting in.”

LaGrange was off last week after hanging on at the end to beat Hampton 18-14.

LaGrange had a solid game defensively, and the offense did just enough.

Quarterback Charles Crawford threw touchdown passes to Adrian Traylor and Dylan Norvell, and LaGrange’s other touchdown came when Dawson Jones returned a fumble for a touchdown.

Crawford had a tough night physically, breaking a finger on his left hand, and he also suffered a keep cut on his forehead. Crawford only missed a few plays, though, and his contributions were invaluable as a quarterback, and also as a punter.

“Charles is the example,” Gibbs said. “When he leads from the front like that, nobody else really has an excuse. All the stats in the world can’t account for how much that young man means to our program right now.”

Gibbs is glad to have Crawford leading the offense against a Central-Carroll defense that can present some problems.

“We’re fortunate that Charles has enough leadership and poise that he’s not going to get easily confused by coverages,” Gibbs said. “He knows where to go with the football, as soon as the ball is snapped. That puts us in position to make plays. Now we’ve got to catch the ball on the back end.”

After the Central-Carroll game, LaGrange visits Cedartown before embarking on a brutal three-game stretch that includes Cartersville, Troup and Sandy Creek.

Troup’s final region game is against Chapel Hill.

Gibbs’ hope, obviously, is that his team is 2-0 in the region heading into that challenging portion of the schedule.

“It won’t be easy, but I think both of those are doable for us. But we have to play good football,” Gibbs said. “And then we star the gauntlet against probably the best four teams in our region.”


WHEN: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Callaway Stadium

RECORDS: LaGrange (2-1); Central-Carroll (2-2)

LAST YEAR: Central-Carroll beat LaGrange 13-10