LaGrange High School wanted it just as much as the Shaw Raiders.
On a rain-soaked night, LaGrange High dug in. The Grangers stretched and strained. They showed incredible resolve. LaGrange High never backed down.
They repeatedly stepped into the line of fire, but the Grangers did not win. La-Grange High fell to Columbus Shaw, 15-7 on a sloppy, rainy and tightly contested night in a hardcore football duel at Callaway Stadium on Thursday evening.
“We showed some pure grit. We expected to win. We played hard for each other. We may not be the most talented (team), but we wanted it. I have some tremendous kids,” said Granger head football coach Chuck Gibbs.
LaGrange High didn’t play like a 2-8 football team, which they now are. The Grangers played to win. They played some full throttle football. It wasn’t pretty, but the Grangers left the impression that this is a football program to watch out for in the very near future.
“This program is going up. We want to win. We had some bad weather, but we adjusted,” said Grangers senior center Will Flowers.
He was one of 24 seniors who played their last football game for La-Grange High School. It was a heart-felt farewell, too, and in the rain.
The seniors honored their football program with some rough and tumble play. And it kept on raining.
“We showed some character. We executed, and we hit some plays. I have never seen a senior class with more fight (than this one),” said Charles Crawford, the 6-foot-2 senior quarterback for the Grangers.
On a miserable night for football, Crawford made some plays anyway. He completed 5 of 11 passes for 63 yards. Crawford also had eight carries for 19 yards.
But more than that, Crawford showed some leadership and some ability as he led LaGrange High on three second half drives. One of those marches downfield resulted in a Caleb Ross two-yard touchdown run with 1:19 left in the third quarter.
The Grangers shaved the Raider lead to 9-7. La-Grange High almost scored on another possession as senior Dylan Norvell sprinted to the goal line at the 4:19 mark of the third period. The Norvell touchdown was wiped out, however, due to a holding call.
LaGrange High nearly scored again in the third period as Charles Crawford led the Grangers down to the Shaw 24 yard line. The drive, however, ended on a Crawford incomplete pass in the end zone on fourth down.
The ball slipped off the fingertips of Granger junior wide receiver Adrian Traylor. LaGrange High never stopped trying – all game long.
“They got after us. La-Grange has a great (football) tradition, and they have some good fans,” said coach Al Pellegrino of Shaw (6-4 record).
The Raiders did punch their ticket for two touchdowns in the second half. Shaw scored on junior tailback Amir Harper’s nineyard touchdown scamper in the third period.
Shaw also scored on a one-yard touchdown run from junior quarterback Wason Davis with 7:30 left in the fourth period. Davis and the Raiders racked up 241 yards and seven first downs on the evening.
Harper did a lot of the damage with 20 carries for 206 yards and one score.
“It’s hard to get a big hit on him. Amir is shifty. He changes directions well,” said Pellegrino.
The Raiders also scored in the game on a 26-yard field goal from senior Cesar DeAnda at the 7:09 mark of the first quarter.
Finishing drives was still difficult to do for Shaw. LaGrange High mounted two defensive stands in the red zone. The Grangers rose up and came down hard with junior defensive end Jacquez Smith, senior linebacker Andraka Martin, senior cornerback Charles Miller and senior defensive tackle Jonathan Sutton.
The Grangers also got two interceptions from Miller – one in the second quarter and one in the third stanza. And on offense, the Grangers got 71 yards on 16 carries from Caleb Ross, the smashmouth junior running back.
“I ran behind my blocks. I ran north and south, and I played hard. We have a smart team,” said Ross.
The Grangers also have a well-coached team with loads of promise. Better days are ahead for La-Grange High football.
The author of this article can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Chris Fernsler Sports Writer