LaGrange’s Gibbs hits milestone
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
Kale Gibbs was hoping to make the most of his final season as a high-school player, and that plan has come together nicely.
Despite missing much of two games with an injury, Gibbs surpassed the 1,000-yard barrier with a strong performance in last week’s 47-14 home win over Jordan that improved the Grangers’ record to 5-2.
Gibbs has 1,013 yards on 100 attempts, good for an average of better than 10 yards per carry, and he has scored 12 touchdowns.
Gibbs had more than 100 yards with four touchdowns, all in the first half, in the blowout win over Jordan.
Gibbs had scoring runs of 31 yards, 16 yards, seven yards, and one yard as the Grangers built a 40-0 lead.
“He works so hard in the weight room, and he’s been preparing for this moment for a long time,” said LaGrange head coach Matt Napier. “He’s just a wonderful kid. He’s always got a smile on his face, and we’re happy to see him making plays.”
After running up and down the field against Jordan, Gibbs, with his ever-present smile in face, offered his appreciation to an inexperienced offensive line that has thrived this season under the tutelage of position coach David Pleasants.
It’s an offensive line that includes Elijah Quimbayo, Qua Thornton, KT Owens, Brandon Wortham, Kavarious Perry, Jackson Dennis, Thad Dixon and Christian Rothermel.
“One of the things that amazes me is how young our line is,” Gibbs said. “Because of how young they are, it shows how great the future is for this program.”
Gibbs has shown throughout the season if he gets some blocking, he’ll take advantage of it.
Gibbs has had at least 100 yards in every game he’s appeared in, and that included a 287-yard effort in an overtime win over Northside-Columbus.
“He’s special with his desire to compete,” Napier said. “He’s got a heart that you’re looking for.”
As for the offensive line, Napier was proud of how that unit performed, including Kavarious Perry, who was selected as the lineman of the week after grading out at 92 percent.
“There are sophomores, and a freshman center and tight end,” Napier said. “They do a really good job executing, and coach Pleasants has done a great job preparing those guys each week.”
OVER 1,000: Kale Gibbs wasn’t the only LaGrange player to reach 1,000 yards in the Jordan game.
Jaylan Brown, LaGrange’s gifted sophomore quarterback, surpassed 1,000 passing yards in the win over Jordan.
Brown, who has started every game this season, has completed 60-of-116 passes for 1,085 yards with 11 touchdowns.
Brown has also been effective in the ground game with 214 yards on 41 carries with six touchdowns.
SENIOR LEADERS: On a defense that came into the season with a lot of first-time starters, senior linebacker Jarno Huzzie was counted on to not only be a voice of experience, but to make plays on the field.
Huzzie has been getting it done on both counts, and he continued his stellar senior season with a strong effort against Jordan last week.
Huzzie had six tackles, including four for loss, and he also had a fumble recovery in the 47-14 win.
Huzzie has close to 70 tackles in seven games, and that includes a 13-tackle effort against Columbus, and a 12-tackle performance against Kendrick.
Like the other seniors on the team, Huzzie has enjoyed having success this season after some lean years.
In fact with five wins this year, LaGrange has eclipsed the win total from the 2017 to 2019 seasons combined.
“This is really special,” Huzzie said after a win over Shaw. “We worked hard over the summer, and we’re building every week, and we keep working as a team. We’re getting better together. Everything is going just fine, and we’re just taking it one week at a time.”
Another senior who has excelled for LaGrange is AJ Traylor, who is LaGrange’s leading receiver with 15 catches for 321 yards and four touchdowns.
WELCOME BACK: Running back Asa Leath, who filled in nicely when Kale Gibbs was unable to play, has missed the past few games, but he was back on the field for the Jordan game.
Leath showed off his explosiveness with a 42-yard touchdown run in the second half, and that capped the scoring for the Grangers.
For the season, Leath has run for 251 yards on 27 carries with two touchdowns, and he’s averaging 9.3 yards per rushing attempt.
SPECIAL-TEAMS STANDOUT: Junior Trae Cole made an impact as a special-teams player in the win over Jordan.
Cole had a 31-yard punt return in the second quarter that put the ball on the Jordan 16-yard line, and running back Kale Gibbs scored on the next play.
Cole also forced Jordan to start a possession inside its own 10-yard line when he made a nice tackle on a kickoff.
HANDS ON THE BALL: Tae Snead has been a popular target for quarterback Jaylan Brown throughout the season, but coming into last week’s game against Jordan he’d yet to score a touchdown.
Snead changed that when he caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Brown in the first quarter, and he finished with two receptions for 53 yards.
“I come in every game hoping I get (a touchdown), but if I don’t, I don’t let it bother me,” Snead said. “As long as we win, I’m all right.”
Another one of LaGrange’s explosive wide receivers is Kobe Jones, and he showed off his play-making ability on a 38-yard catch in the second quarter.
Jones was covered, but he went up and snatched the ball away from his defender, setting LaGrange up deep in Jordan territory.
LaGrange scored two plays later on a Towson Partin 1-yard touchdown run.
GETTING HER CHANCE: Micah Prophet has done an exceptional job on extra points this season, but with LaGrange leading comfortably in the second half last week against Jordan, head coach Matt Napier decided to give someone else a chance.
Carlee Roland, a freshman kicker, was called upon to kick an extra point in the second half following an Asa Leath.
Despite taking a late hit that resulted in a 15-yard penalty, Roland’s kick split the uprights, giving LaGrange its 47th and final point.
Roland made headlines last season as one of three female members of the Gardner Newman football team, and she has made the transition to high-school football this year, and now she’s in the books after making an extra point.