Complete effort for Grangers
By kevin eckleberry
With a massive showdown with the rival Troup Tigers looming, The LaGrange Grangers took care of business last week against Spencer.
The Grangers led 32-0 at the half, and they extended the lead to 38-0 in the third quarter before the Greenwave scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter to avoid the shutout.
LaGrange (6-2 overall) improved to 5-1 in Region 2-AAAA and secured a spot in the state playoffs with regular-season games remaining against Troup and Hardaway.
LaGrange plays Troup this Friday at Callaway Stadium before ending the regular season against Hardaway on Nov. 19.
If LaGrange finishes first or second in the region it will host a first-round game in the state playoffs.
If LaGrange finishes third or fourth, it will be on the road for the opening round of the playoffs.
This will be the Grangers’ first state-playoff appearance since 2014, and they’ll finish with a winning record for the first time since 2009.
Here are some notes from last week’s victory over Spencer:
CHEWING UP THE YARDS: As has been the case throughout the season, senior running back Kale Gibbs was the key cog in the LaGrange High offense.
Gibbs ran for 141 yards on 11 carries with two touchdowns, and he also had one catch for 51 yards.
For the season, Gibbs has 1,154 yards on 111 carries, an average of better than 10 yards per attempt.
Quarterback Jaylan Brown added three carries for 19 yards against Spencer, and he had a touchdown.
LaGrange also got it done in the passing game, with Brown completing 6-of-13 passes for 113 yards with a touchdown.
Brown, who has started all eight games for LaGrange, has thrown for 1,198 yards with 12 touchdowns this season.
Magic Johnson, LaGrange’s talented sophomore wide receiver, had a big first half that included a touchdown.
Johnson caught three passes for 36 yards, and his 13-yard scoring catch from Jaylan Brown capped the first-half scoring.
Senior A.J. Traylor had one catch for 20 yards, and Tristan Smith had one catch for 20 yards.
For the game, LaGrange had a total of 315 yards, and almost all of that came in the first half.
DEFENSIVE LEADERS: It was a dominant effort for LaGrange’s first-team defense, which didn’t allow any points.
Spencer’s lone touchdown came in the fourth quarter, long after the starters had left the game.
There were a lot of contributors, including junior safety Isaiah Jordan, who had three tackles with a sack, and senior defensive lineman Thad Dixon had three tackles with two for loss and a quarterback hurry.
Senior linebacker Jarno Huzzie, LaGrange’s leading tackler, had two sacks, Trae Cole had three tackles, and JaQuez Smith had two tackles for loss.
SPECIAL PLAYS: Two of LaGrange’s six touchdowns came on special-teams plays.
Leading 7-0 in the first quarter, Trae Cole fielded a punt, and he got into the open field and raced 57 yards for the touchdown.
In the third quarter, LaGrange’s special-teams unit struck again.
Spencer was deep in its own territory, and the punter lost control of the ball in the face of a frantic LaGrange rush, and Tyreeq Carston gathered up the loose ball and raced 10 yards for the touchdown.
MILESTONES: LaGrange is in the state playoffs for the first time since 2014.
That LaGrange team finished third in Region 1-AAAAA before losing to Houston County 55-34 in the first round of the state playoffs.
LaGrange finished fifth in Region 1-AAAA in 2015, and it only won one Region 5-AAAA game from 2016 to 2019.
It’s been a much different story this season, with LaGrange winning five region games while securing that long-awaited playoff spot.
The Grangers will also finish with a winning record, no matter what happens the rest of the way. LaGrange went 8-3 in 2009, and it hasn’t had a winning record since then.
LaGrange did finish 6-6 in 2012, and it made it to the second round of the state playoffs before losing to Ridgeland.
LaGrange’s wild 59-46 win over Chestatee in the opening round of the playoffs in 2012 is the program’s only state win since 2008.