In the words of LaGrange High running back Kale Gibbs: “We’re back.”
He is right. Gibbs and the Grangers shocked the prep football world on Friday night as LaGrange High upset Heard County, 24-9 in Franklin. The Heard County Braves are the defending Class AA state champions.
LaGrange High made the Braves look like just another team. The Grangers limited Heard County to just four first downs and 157 yards (97 rushing, 60 passing) in the stunning game.
“We never took any plays off. We found a rhythm. We have put the work in,” said Gibbs.
He rushed for 62 yards on eight carries. Gibbs, the junior tailback, eventually broke the Braves back with a 53-yard dash to the end zone with 3:45 left in the third quarter.
Gibbs gave the Grangers some elbow room with that touchdown. LaGrange High took a 17-9 lead. The Grangers had more in store for the 2,000 high school football fans at Staples Stadium.
LaGrange High put some whipped cream on its upset win with a 36yard touchdown run from senior quarterback Charles Crawford at the 5:38 mark of the fourth period. The Grangers put the game on ice with a 24-9 advantage.
“We didn’t expect them to score like that. We put our heads down, and we beat ourself,” said Braves junior running back Alex Boyd.
He was the leading rusher in the game with 91 yards on 12 carries. But the Grangers still had more variety and more balance than the Braves. Crawford rambled for 70 yards on eight carries. Kale Gibbs had a big night, too, for LaGrange High.
The Grangers also made a 9-0 first half deficit disappear. LaGrange High eventually got on the scoreboard with a 25-yard field goal from senior place kicker Kaleb Ceja in the second period.
LaGrange High also got a 21-yard touchdown pass from Crawford to senior wide receiver Logan Karcher with 1:45 remaining in the first half. Ceja connected for the PAT as well, and LHS had a 10-9 lead against the defending state champions from Heard County. How do you do?
“We kept grinding. We threw the ball a lot. This is the best feeling, and this is the biggest turnaround,” said Karcher.
The Grangers finished the dirty deed with 202 yards of offense and eight first downs. LaGrange High also intercepted Heard County junior quarterback Leroy Marsh three times. Granger junior cornerback Adrian Traylor had two of those interceptions.
LaGrange High senior cornerback Charles Miller had another interception. The Grangers took the ball away again with a fumble recovery from freshman Valshawn Patterson with 4:45 left in the game.
The Grangers played some more dastardly defense with sophomore linebacker David Paredes, senior lineman Jonathon Sutton and senior linebacker Andraka Martin. They played for keeps.
LaGrange High put the hammer down on Heard County from the second quarter on.
“We have a bunch of blue-collar guys, and we didn’t flinch. We showed some resolve, and we played with confidence,” said Granger head football coach Chuck Gibbs.
Heard County did not score in the final three quarters of the game. All of the Braves points came in the first 12 minutes of the night on a James Newell 35-yard field goal and a Leroy Marsh 58yard touchdown pass to senior split end Micaiah Austin.
LaGrange High’s next football game is on tap for Friday, Sept. 6 against the Callaway High Cavaliers. That game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. in Callaway Stadium in LaGrange.
The author of this article can be reached via email at info@troupcountynews. net.
Chris Fernsler Sports Writer