Grangers continue summer program
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
There’s plenty of work left to do between now and opening night, but LaGrange High first-year head football coach Matt Napier likes the way everything is trending.
The Grangers are finishing up their second week of summer conditioning, and Napier appreciates the effort the players have been giving.
“You can see it with their attendance. You can see it with their work ethic,” said Napier, who came to LaGrange after spending the previous 15 seasons as the offensive coordinator on the Callaway High football team. “These guys are coming in with almost a chip on their shoulder. They’re showing up working every day. They’re hungry for it. They have embraced the grind. It’s been tough. It hasn’t been easy on them. We’ve had kids struggle to get through it, but they see themselves getting better, they see themselves overcoming it. It’s been really good.”
Like every other football team, LaGrange has had to adjust to the new reality created by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Grangers were well into their offseason strength and conditioning program and preparing for spring practice when everything was shut down in the middle of March.
That shutdown, which lasted nearly three months, ended last week when the Georgia High School Association gave the go-ahead for teams to begin summer conditioning.
“It’s been very helpful to get them here, get them back to the routine, back to having a coach yelling at them,” Napier said. “It’s been two or three months where you haven’t had someone correct you, or coach you. You have to get your body back into that routine, that tempo. The game is played in spurts of four or five seconds, and then a 20-second rest. We make our workout program to be like a game. For us to get them in here, and get their body conditioned for that moment is important to us.”
Through the first two weeks of summer workouts, LaGrange’s 100-plus players have been divided into a handful of smaller groups of fewer than 20 players.
Those groups work out together each day, and it’s the same two coaches leading them.
“I think it’s been good for the players, and the coaches,” Napier said of having smaller groups with the same coaches. “These guys have taken the plan that we all put together and have been able to come in and incorporate it and teach the kids. It’s helping our staff grow.”
The players will have one more full week of conditioning before taking the week of July 4th off.
Summer workouts will resume on July 6, which is a month away from LaGrange’s first of two preseason games.
LaGrange hosts Brookstone on Aug. 7 before visiting Harris County on Aug. 14.
LaGrange begins playing for keeps on Aug. 21 when it opens the regular season at Upson-Lee.
“You get three weeks here to kind of condition, because hopefully you can come out in July and it’s full bore,” Napier said.