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Napier named region coach of the year

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

When Matt Napier took over as LaGrange High’s head football coach one year ago, he knew the challenge he was facing.

While LaGrange is historically one of the state’s most successful football programs, recent history hadn’t been kind to the Grangers.

From 2016 to 2019, in fact, the Grangers only won six games, and that included a winless season in 2017.

Under Napier’s direction, the Grangers enjoyed a remarkable turnaround in 2020, posting an 8-4 record while reaching the second round of the state playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade.

Not surprisingly, Napier was selected as the Region 2-AAAA coach of the year, an honor he shared with Carver’s Corey Joyner.

Napier, a Murray County native, came to LaGrange after an ultra-successful 15-year stint as Callaway’s offensive coordinator.

While focused on the long-term health of the program, Napier also wanted to give the seniors the best opportunity to thrive, and he was thrilled to see that group enjoy some success before they graduated.

“They’ve had a lot of adversity to go through, and they continue to fall in love with the game, and continue to do what we wanted them to do,” Napier said during the season. “They could have found a way to give up or do something else, but they didn’t do that. I’m proud of them.”

Napier’s first season grew even more challenging because of the restrictions put in place due to Covid-19, but the Grangers overcame those obstacles to put together their first winning season since 2009.

“It’s unlike what any group of kids have had to go through before when you talk about the Covid situation and just everything we’re going through in the world,” Napier said. “Those guys didn’t know if we’d get to play this season, and for them to show up even if they weren’t sure they were going to play and go through all those things, I couldn’t be more proud of this group. It’s been a lot of sweat, a lot of tough times, and they persevered through it, and I’m glad to see them get rewarded for it.”