LaGrange, Ga. – In a community like LaGrange, Georgia high school football is part of the culture’s foundation. Since the 1950’s the Grangers have won 6 State Championships, and a National Championship in 1991. This season the Grangers crossed another milestone. When the Grangers defeated Westover 45-6; they became just the second high school program in the GHSA history win 800 games. Matt Napier, the current LaGrange High School head coach, says he’s humbled to be part of Granger history.
“I’m a North Georgia kid. I grew up with my dad who’s a head football coach up in North Georgia, and I always knew who LaGrange was. I always knew about the reputation and the way they played. The style of play that they played with, and to be associated with that and a part of that is humbling,” said Napier.
The only other Georgia High School to reach this milestone with the Grangers is the powerhouse Valdosta High Wildcats. News 3 Sports Director Jack Patterson says that LaGrange’s journey to 800 wins should be viewed a little differently than the Wildcats.
“Valdosta has been one of those powerhouses year in and year out. You’re talking about a LaGrange team that started later and won more games. I think it’s a more bigger accomplishment that you see a team like LaGrange to do it in this amount of time,” said Patterson.
Now in the early 2000’s, the Grangers were always contenders to win a State Championship. Under head coach Steve Pardue, LaGrange won three state titles in four years. Two of those championships were in back to back years in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
Fast forward to this season and Coach Napier has led a resurgence of Granger football. So far this season LaGrange boasts a 9-2 over record, and 6-1 in the region.
“Under Matt Napier this team has turned the corner and now they’re back contending year in and year out for the playoffs. They’re back to what LaGrange football has been known for,” said Patterson.
Outside of the wins on the gridiron Coach Napier has noticed there’s another resurgence of Granger fans in the city.
“It’s fun to go to the games and the bleachers are packed. The Granger Blue is everywhere. You’re seeing more and more of those stars back on the back of cars. You know it’s just an honor to be apart of that,” said Napier.
Coach Napier is proud of the current state of his team, but he’s made it clear that they play to honor the Grangers that have come before his current roster. There’s still plenty of work to do to reach the standard they want.
“We’re on our way and we’ll continue to improve. We’ll continue to work to chase that greatness,” said Napier.
The Grangers will take on the defending 2-time State Champion Benedictine in the first round of the GHSA playoffs.