Athlete of the week: Malik Kemp has made an easy transition to LaGrange
Published 8:30 am Wednesday, October 18, 2023
Malik Kemp is no longer the new kid on the block. The LaGrange starting quarterback is now entrenched in the starting lineup every week for the blue and white.
“This is going to be our senior night this week, and it is special,” Kemp said. “This has been special since we got here.”
Kemp, along with his twin brother Malachi, transferred into LaGrange during their junior years from Carrollton. LaGrange head coach Matt Napier helped him adjust as they would watch film after practice.
Flash forward to now and this has been a dream come true to suit up on Friday nights together.
The two connected on a couple of passes in the Riverdale game that proved special for Kemp.
“I was happy that he caught that,” Kemp said of their deep connection against Riverdale.
“He caught a toe-tapper on the sideline too and he won’t let me hear the end of that one. Those were moments that I will never forget.”
Kemp is a versatile dual-threat quarterback, willing to stand in the pocket and sling the ball around or use his legs if that is what the game plan asks for.
“It really depends on the game,” Kemp said. “I like staying in the pocket and throwing on the run. When I’m on the run, one of my favorite targets is Steven Hill because we have really built a connection there.”
There were a few struggles for Kemp and the entire offense early in the season, but he gradually adjusted to the offense more and more as he continued to get reps against quality defenses.
He believes it all really clicked against Upson-Lee in week three.
“I just started understanding the offense more,” Kemp said. “I was able to go out there and make the audibles on my own and just started to be able to read the defense better.
“I was able to run and throw the ball well in that game and since then I’ve been able to play up to my standard.”
Kemp has been slinging the ball around the field since, making strong connections with wide receivers Hill and Denorayon Reid.
“Having all those guys on the outside and a good o-line makes it so much easier as a quarterback,” Kemp said. “We have great players out there making big catches, and yards after the catch is big with us, and we have guys that can get extra yards.”
Kemp has eclipsed 1,000 yards passing to go along with 14 total touchdowns through seven games.
The Grangers had a bye week last week, but it was anything but that as the no. 2 offense and defense go at it.
“My favorite type of practice is when we go best on best,” Kemp said. “It is hard to go against our defense, so it makes the games a lot easier when you are going up against one of the best defenses in 4A each day at practice.”
After a week with no game, Kemp is raring to go against region leader Trinity Christian on Friday, which will prove to be a crucial game for the region standings.
“We are just trying to take it play by play, game by game,” he said. “We are focused on going 1-0 this week and then we will worry about who comes next after this game.”