Thursday Night Football: LaGrange to host Whitewater for crucial region matchup

Published 8:00 am Thursday, September 21, 2023

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LaGrange is in for another crucial region game on Thursday night as the Grangers host region foe Whitewater. 

Both teams are 0-1 to start region play, both will be hungry for a win to get their season back on track.

“We have to put that loss behind us and focus on the next one because in this region it is important that you are able to bounce back after a little setback,” LaGrange coach Matt Napier said. 

Whitewater fell to Troup 56-7 in their region opener last Friday. The Wildcats will be traveling to Callaway Stadium on Thursday with a turnaround in mind, much like their Granger counterparts.

The Wildcats won the only matchup in the history of these two programs, last year’s 29-21 victory.
The Wildcats are known for their traditional Wing T offense that can be difficult to stop.

“They run the Wing T the way it is supposed to be run,” Napier said. “They get lined up and run the play quick and it will be important for our defense to get the call in and come off the ball when the ball is snapped.

“They present a little bit different of a challenge than anybody we will face because nobody runs it quite like they do.”

LaGrange has been practicing with an edge this week after last week’s 21-7 loss to Starr’s Mill. The game was in the balance late in the third quarter and into the fourth, but ultimately the Grangers made too many mistakes to come away with a win.

“It’s important to execute, but when you play good football teams you have to be ready to play from the start,” Napier said. “Our guys look forward to any opportunity to compete against a good football team.”

Last week’s game featured a slow pace as the Panthers grinded the game to a halt with slow methodical drive. Do not expect the same on Thursday night as the Wildcat and Granger offenses like to get downhill quick.

“I think we had around just 15 plays in the first half on offense last week, which is very, very low for our no huddle offense,” Napier said.

Even when the offense has sputtered at times this year, one player has not. Steven Hill has taken this season by the horns. He has back-to-back games with 90+ yards receiving, and has turned himself into a bonafide no. 1 receiver for LaGrange.

“He’s a guy that is a really tough cover, runs really crips routes and has really good hands,” Napier said. “He has been fighting through an injury to start the season and he has become one of our real threats on offense.”

The defense has been the saving grace at times for the Grangers this season. 

“Coach Thomas (Burton) and the entire defensive staff have put together a great game plan each week and we have some real veteran players on that side of the ball that bring some real leadership,” Napier said. “The speed and physicality we have up front is different.

“Those are some intangibles that can bring a lot of success for you.”

LaGrange is looking to avoid starting 0-2 in the region for the second straight season. The Grangers were able to run the table a season ago and earn a playoff spot, but they want to take care of business on Thursday night and put that in the back of their minds. 

“We have had a wonderful week of practice and the bounce back with this group has been really good,” Napier said. “They have come in ready to work and learn from some of the mistakes we have made.”