It all comes together for Grangers

By Kevin Eckleberry

March 13, 2014

When the 2013 season ended with a 6-0 loss in the first round of the state tournament, the players and coaches on the LaGrange High boys’ soccer team decided they needed to do something different if they wanted to take the program to another level.

With that in mind, the LaGrange Blue Sox travel soccer team was formed, and it was made up of players on the LaGrange High team.

“We realized that what these (successful) teams have on us is they have great club programs,” LaGrange coach Keita Placide said. “They keep their group together. So I said, let’s try to do the same thing.”

The team was created, and the Blue Sox played games during the summer and fall.

The effort seems to have paid major dividends.

After Friday’s win over the rival Carrollton Trojans, the Grangers are 6-2 overall, but importantly, they’re sitting at the top of the Region 5-AAAA standings with a 3-0 record.

The Grangers have four region games remaining, including a showdown against Columbus on March 27 that could determine the region championship.

“I’m proud of these guys. They’re starting to mature,” Placide said. “They’re starting to look like we need to be in that top-10 (in the state rankings).”

Junior Jackson Fagundes said the Blue Sox program has a lot to do with the Grangers’ success this spring.

“We had a program in the offseason, the Blue Sox, and it really just allowed us to play better,” Fagundes said. “We played crazy good teams. We came together. It was awesome.”

The Grangers began the season with a 3-1 loss to East Coweta, and they promptly ripped off five straight wins before losing to Stone Mountain on penalty kicks on March 1.

The Grangers followed up that loss with an impressive 3-0 victory over a Carrollton team expected to compete for the region title.

Carrollton has had LaGrange’s number the past few seasons, but this year’s game was dominated by the Grangers.

Fagundes, Jay Free and Yimmi Posada all had goals for the Grangers.

Fagundes has done his part to help the Grangers enjoy a strong season.

The junior leads the team with seven goals, and he also has five assists.

Michael Brackett has five goals, and Griffin Bartley has three goals.

Posada has two goals, and Free, Kyler Hall, Nick Hinson, Joseph Lee, Matthew Thomas and Qua Tucker each has one goal.

Michael Coffman has had a terrific season as the Grangers’ goal keeper.

Coffman has given up just seven goals in eight games.

“We’ve just improved over the past year, especially with coach Keita helping us out,” Fagundes said. “(Playing for the Blue Sox has) made us better overall. We’re 10 times better than we were last year.”

LaGrange will be back home on Saturday for a 7 p.m. game against First Presbyterian.

LaGrange will return to its region schedule on March 18 at Fayette County.