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Fallen Granger honored on all-region team

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

Trae Cole wasn’t just a play-maker for the LaGrange Grangers, he was also a loyal friend and teammate who never failed to brighten the day of those around him.

Tragically, Cole was killed in a car wreck late in November, and his teammates played the final three games of the season with heavy hearts.

On the field, Cole made his presence felt last season as a defensive back and return specialist, and he returned a punt for a touchdown in his final game against Spencer.

Cole’s good work on the football field was recognized by the coaches in Region 2-AAAA, who made him an all-region player.

When the all-Region 2-AAAA team was unveiled last week, Cole was listed as a second-team player as a returner, and a defensive back.

LaGrange head coach Matt Napier, who was named the region’s coach of the year, spoke at Cole’s memorial service.

“The love that these young men had for their teammate and brother is unequaled,” Napier said. “We loved Trae, we loved everything about him. He played the game the way the game was supposed to be played. He played with unbelievable effort. You turn the film on and you see it. When we say play like Trae, that’s what we’re talking about. It wasn’t just his effort. It wasn’t just how he played. It was that personality that he had. Everybody wanted to be around him. He was the kind of guy you gravitated toward him.”

LaGrange had a handful of other players make the all-region team as well, including running back Kale Gibbs, who had more rushing yards than any Class AAAA player in the state.

Gibbs finished with more than 1,700 rushing yards in 12 games with 16 touchdowns, and he delivered some of the momentous plays of the season. In the final game of the regular season against Hardaway, and in the state-playoff opener against New Hampstead, Gibbs had the go-ahead touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.

LaGrange faced double-digit deficits in both of those games before rallying for the win.

“It’s how we’ve come together as a brotherhood,” Gibbs said after the New Hampstead game. “We’ve had losses in the past. We’ve had the loss of three different teammates. We know what it’s like to be down. We know how to lean on each other. We pick each other back up, and that’s how we come back in games like these.”

Another one of LaGrange’s offensive play-makers, wide receiver AJ Traylor, was also a first-team selection to the all-region team.

Other first-team picks were Jackson Dennis (offensive lineman), Qua Thornton (offensive line) Parker Shattuck (tight end/punter), Micah Prophett (place kicker), and Thad Dixon (defensive lineman).

Among LaGrange’s second-team all-region player is quarterback Jaylan Brown, who enjoyed a stellar debut season as a starter.

Also making the second team are Magic Johnson (wide receiver), Christian Rothermel (offensive lineman), Towson Partin (fullback), Isaiah Jordan (linebacker), Kobe Jones (defensive back) and A.J. Traylor (athlete).

LaGrange’s honorable-mention selections are Towson Partin (fullback), Tae Snead (wide receiver), Tyreeq Carston (defensive line) Lataurus Swindle (defensive line), and Jarno Huzzie (linebacker).

ALL-REGION PLAYERS

FIRST TEAM

Kale Gibbs (running back), A.J Traylor (wide receiver), Parker Shattuck (tight end), Jackson Dennis (offensive line), Parker Shattuck (punter), Micah Prophett (kicker), Thad Dixon (defensive line)

SECOND TEAM

Jaylan Brown (quarterback), Magic Johnson (wide receiver), Towson Partin (fullback), Christian Rothermel (offensive line), Trae Cole (defensive back/return specialist), Isaiah Jordan (linebacker), Kobe Jones (defensive back), A.J. Traylor (athlete)

HONORABLE MENTION

Towson Partin (fullback), Isaiah Jordan (linebacker), Tae Snead (wide receiver), Tyreeq Carston (defensive line) and Lataurus Swindle (defensive line