LAGRANGE – Every football team feels a sense of urgency this time of year, with a new season drawing closer by the minute.
For the LaGrange Grangers, that feeling of urgency is particulary amped up.
LaGrange is playing two preseason games this season, and the first one is just eight days away.
LaGrange, which is in the midst of its first week of preseason practice, will host Heard County on Aug. 5, and it has another preseason game on Aug. 11 at Newnan.
Then on Aug. 19, it’s time to play for keeps as LaGrange takes the field against Callaway.
While most teams won’t be playing a preseason game until two weeks from now, LaGrange head coach Dialleo Burks believes it’ll be beneficial for his players to get on the field earlier than that, to find out what they need to work on.
“Waiting is the biggest curse sometimes,” Burks said. “It’s good for us that we get to go and see our mistakes.”
There are a bunch of positions on the team where players are vying for a starting spot, and Burks said that’s another benefit of having two preseason games is that he and the other coaches will get a good look at everyone in a game situation as opposed to practice.
“We’ve got competition at a lot of positions,” Burks said. “We get to see guys win jobs. That’s the exciting part of it.”
After a busy and productive summer, LaGrange held its first official preseason practice on Monday afternoon under the sweltering July sun.
For the first four days of preseason practice, LaGrange is on the field from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m., and Burks said the idea is to make the most of every minute.
“We want them to have a certain mentality when they hit the field, that this is how the game is played,” Burks said. “When you cross that line, I need you know this stuff. When you hit the field, we’re about business.”
Burks added the team needs to be “detailed in what we do, make sure we’re detailed in our scheme, make sure the guys are detailed in their play.”
Burks said this week has also given the players an opportunity to adjust to some of the new coaches on staff, including former Granger DeMoreo Ford, who will be serving as a community coach this fall.
“We’ve got some new coaches coming in, and they’re just getting used to how we do things,” Burks said.
Burks said the players arrived on Monday ready to go, and he credits that to the good work the team did during the summer.
In addition to the daily workouts at the school, the Grangers also participated in a number of seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 team camps.
“We’ve been doing a lot of football work this summer,” Burks said. “That transition is not as bad as it was last year. We ran a lot last year. Everything we’re doing now is football-related. Movements, getting out of drills, we’re constantly moving, so we’re getting conditioning in right there.”
LaGrange will take a break from its normal routine at the end of the week.
The Grangers will head to the Georgia Sheriffs’ Pineland camp on Friday, and they’ll spend the night and have a scrimmage Saturday morning before taking advantage of what the facility has to offer that afternoon.
“We’ll have families out there, and coach’s wives and kids, and we’ll fish, and play horseshoes and everything,” Burks said.
Burks said the weekend is partly a reward for the diligence the players showed during summer workouts.
“We were blessed to have most of our guys here for almost every workout,” Burks said. “So now we want to reward them.”
LaGrange will return to practice on Monday at Granger Park, and it will have four practices that week before taking the field against Heard County on Aug. 5.
The following day will be a special one for the LaGrange football program.
LaGrange has created a Ring of Honor to recognize the great players and coaches in the program’s history.
On Aug. 6, five individuals will be inducted into the Ring of Honor during a ceremony at LaGrange High at 6 p.m.
The inductees will be Jimmy Burson, coach Oliver Hunnicutt, Pat Hunnicutt, John Johnson and Wesley Woodyard.
“It’s all coming together. I’m excited,” Burks said. “We’ve got coaches calling, and it’s almost like I can’t sit down. We’re ready. It’s going to be really good to see everyone.”
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports