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Grangers put in the work on practice field

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

The LaGrange Grangers are looking for a turnaround season, and how successful they are on the practice field will no doubt be a key factor in whether they make that a reality.

So far, first-year head coach Matt Napier like what he’s seen from the players, who began voluntary summer workouts June 8 and will make the transition to official preseason practice on Monday.

“They’ve really bought into the philosophy of how we practice,” said Napier, who has made the move to LaGrange after spending the previous 15 seasons as Callaway’s offensive coordinator. “They’ve bought into moving around really well, and no wasted time from a drill standpoint. The coaches are doing such a good job of doing all that, and the players have bought into the plan we have for every day when we turn out.”

Napier also appreciates the effort the other coaches are putting in to make everything go smoothly.

“The coaches are doing such a good job of doing all that, and the players have bought into the plan we have for every day when we turn out,” Napier said. “Being organized and being structured is a big part of that, and our staff’s doing a really good job of putting practices together, and making sure that everybody is where they’re supposed to be, and then holding the kids accountable, and then holding themselves accountable.”

It has been an unusual offseason for LaGrange, and every other high-school football team in the state.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, teams were unable to get together for more than three months, and spring practice was wiped out.

Teams were permitted to begin voluntary workouts in June, and what the players were permitted to has expanded during the summer.

Last week, the Georgia High School Association announced that the start of the regular season would be pushed back to Sept. 4, with preseason games set for Aug. 21 and Aug. 28.

The fact that there would be a season was welcome news to Napier.

“The doubt was out the window to a certain extent,” Napier said. “I’m sure anything can happen at this point. But definitely the thought of them coming out and making that announcement really got the kids excited and took the doubt out of things on preparation. There was a little buzz, a little energy at practice. It worked out really well.”

The Grangers have been going at it hard with the expectation that they’d be playing a preseason game on Aug. 7, and now they have two more weeks to prepare.

“We were going at it as if we would play on the seventh, but to get that extra time right here to prepare, we’re not upset about it,” Napier said. “It really helps us get prepared. Any practice we can get will get us headed in the right direction to play football, so we’re definitely excited about that.”

LaGrange has two preseason games, one at home against Greenville on Aug. 21, and one on the road against Harris County on Aug. 28.

LaGrange opens the regular season at Upson-Lee on Sept. 4.