• 70°

Grangers make home debut

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

It’s a short week for the LaGrange Grangers.

After opening the season with a 31-19 loss to Upson-Lee on Friday, LaGrange will turn around and play again six days later.

LaGrange will host Northside-Columbus on Thursday at 7 p.m. as it looks for its first win of the season.

“We did a few extra things on Sunday when we came in for film, to try to get us as prepared as possible,” said Matt Napier, LaGrange’s first-year head coach. “Northside has to do it, too, so there’s no disadvantage or advantage. You’ve just got to get the kids ready quick. You study your opponent and get the kids knowledgeable on both sides of the ball and special teams, and do the best you can to get them ready to play in a short period of time.”

LaGrange’s opponent is a Northside team that got things started with a 35-21 win over the Columbus Blue Devils.

“That’s a big rivalry game. You can tell on film that they were playing really, really hard, and they did a lot of good things,” Napier said. “They’ve got a first-year coach in coach (Andrew) Oropeza, and he’s done a great job coming over from Harris County. You can tell they’re coached really well, and they’re doing a lot of little things right. They’ve got some explosive players. Their running back is super-talented. He’s got Division I offers. So we’re looking forward to competing against a well-coached team and a team that’s got some players.”

LaGrange is coming off a hard-fought loss to Upson-Lee.

Kale Gibbs, who had 136 yards on 12 carries, had a 60-yard touchdown run for LaGrange.

Sophomore quarterback Jaylan Brown, meanwhile, threw touchdown passes to Magic Johnson and AJ Traylor.

The night ultimately belonged to the Knights, though, and the Grangers showed up for work hungry to improve.

“Anytime you lose, obviously you’re eager to get back and play as quick as possible,” Napier said. “I was proud of the kids that came out and worked hard and did the things we needed to do to prepare. So it’s been a good week.”

After playing Northside, LaGrange will take two weeks off before beginning its Region 2-AAAA schedule on Sept. 25 against Columbus.

Napier is glad his team will have two games under its belt before beginning the all-important region schedule.

“You’re learning about the players, and the players are learning about their role, and understanding what you’re trying to do from a philosophy and scheme standpoint, and you’re figuring out which kids cut it on when the lights come on,” Napier said. “We found that out last week, and we’ll find that out this week, too.”

While the region games are the ones that will determine whether the Grangers make it to the state playoffs or not, that doesn’t mean they won’t put it all on the line in an effort to beat the Patriots on Thursday.

“Anytime you line up, you want to win,” Napier said. “It’s the competitive nature in me, and this team, and our coaching staff. Anytime you line up, you’re looking to do that. They’ve got a good team, so we’ll go out and compete really hard, and let it fall where it does.”

LAGRANGE VS. NORTHSIDE-COLUMBUS

WHEN: Thursday, 7 p.m.

WHERE: Callaway Stadium

RECORDS: LaGrange (0-1); Northside (1-0)

LAST SEASON: Northside went 1-9; LaGrange went 2-8