Tough closing stretch for Grangers

By Kevin Eckleberry Sports Editor

October 21, 2013

Now it gets really difficult.

The LaGrange Grangers are 3-1 in Region 5-AAAA, but they still have the meat of their schedule to come.

LaGrange’s final three region games will be extremely challenging, beginning with this week’s showdown against the powerful Sandy Creek Patriots.

The Patriots faced a surprisingly tough challenge against Alexander last week, but just as they’ve done nearly every Friday night over the past several years, they found a way to win.

Sandy Creek trailed in the fourth quarter against Alexander, but it pulled away late for a 52-42 victory.

The Patriots (6-0-1 overall) are 4-0 in the region, and they’re looking to win a second straight region title.

Sandy Creek is also trying to win a second consecutive state title, and a fourth state championship in the past five years.

LaGrange, meanwhile, is hoping to build on its solid performance from a week ago.

The Grangers (3-4 overall) bounced back from a loss to Alexander with a 36-20 win over Fayette County.

LaGrange’s offense was crisp, with quarterback Wynton Heard throwing touchdown passes to Hayden Olive and Quan Delaney, and Benny Gray and Mon Denson both had scoring runs.

Defensively, the Grangers gave up some big plays, but head coach Donnie Branch was still pleased with the effort.

“What they do on offense is really, really tough, and I thought we played them great,” Branch said.

Now, LaGrange turns its attention to a Sandy Creek team that hasn’t lost a regular-season game since the first game of the 2009 season, although it did play Plant (Fla.) to a 27-27 tie to start this season.

After Sandy Creek, LaGrange will be back at Callaway Stadium the following week for its annual showdown with Troup, and that game will have huge playoff implications.

LaGrange finishes the regular season at Carrollton on Nov. 8.

Troup, meanwhile, will look to bolster its playoff position when it hosts Fayette County on Friday.

The Tigers (3-4 overall) evened their Region 5-AAAA record at 2-2 with a convincing 49-6 win at Columbus last week.

Troup will have the benefit of not having to leave Callaway Stadium for its final three regular-season games as it fights to be one of the region’s four playoff teams.

Troup will be the visiting team for its Nov. 1 matchup with LaGrange, but that just means the fans will be sitting on the visitor’s side of the stadium.

Troup wraps up the regular season on Nov. 8 at home against Shaw.

If Troup wins its final three regular-season games, it will be in the playoffs.

“We’re in a situation where right now where it stands, we control our destiny,” Troup head coach Lynn Kendall said. “We don’t have to worry about what happens if this team wins or loses. That’s the best scenario, that you’re in control.”

Callaway also controls its own fate as it looks to win a second straight Region 4-AAA championship.

The Cavaliers (6-1 overall) are 4-0 in the region heading into Thursday’s home matchup with B.E.S.T Academy.

Callaway then finishes the regular season with road games against Douglass and Rockmart.