TDL: Two-A-Days - LaGrange Gators
Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - “Through the storms and not having a season at all and watching other teams play, it felt like forever,” said LaGrange defensive end Ellis Kemper. “To be honest, it still feels like forever but I know the day will come and we will feel it, we’re gonna feel the excitement.”
After not playing a football game in 2020, the Gators of LaGrange were chomping at the bit to get back on the field. While this past summer was a return to normalcy, last season or lack thereof has left an impact on the roster.
“It’s basically a blank slate. That’s the way we are coaching them. No kid has a starting spot right now,” said LaGrange coach Marrico Wilson. “We are dealing with five seniors and those five seniors are pretty much the nucleus of our ball club.”
And that’s the main challenge facing LaGrange in 2021. With so little experience, the Gators will have to grow up fast.
“I’m a senior and it kind of puts me in the spotlight because there aren’t many seniors,” said Kemp. “I feel like you have to leave by example.”
And that’s what Kemp is hoping to do for LaGrange’s 4-2-5 defense. With the lack of experience there, Wilson stressed the importance of the players knowing their role.
“It’s a whole new 11 from what we would have had last year,” Wilson said. “One thing defensively about us is that our linebacking corps will have to pick it up. If we can get lined up correctly, I think we can play some football.”
One position the Gators seemed settled at is behind center. Junior Jason Wilson takes over quarterbacking duties after playing for Haughton last season.
“I feel like I have a good arm and I can get it out to my receivers, some of it is quick and some of it is long and some of it is intermediate,” said Jason Wilson. “I feel like I can get it to them and win.”
Those receivers Kameran Darmond, Jaden Bias and Omarion Randolph should make life easier on Wilson as he settles in.
As far as the offensive line, LaGrange may be more game-ready there than anywhere else.
“We have two that have actually played a little bit, junior varsity-wise,” Wilson said. “They’ve been around the program and they’ve been around the offense and it’s basically the same blocking schemes for them.”
“We are short and we are stocky, but we’re strong,” said offensive lineman Korian Lubin. “We’re getting off the line and we are quick when getting off the ball.”
Despite the wealth of inexperience, the opportunity to play football once again is a motivator for the Gators as they open the season at home under the lights of John Mims Memorial Stadium.
“It’s going to feel good. You have to have that mentality that you’re ready and you’ve come to play,” said Lubin. “Everyone should come and support us because Gator football is back baby.”
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