It’s no secret. LaGrange High is looking for difference makers. The Grangers may have found a few of those on Friday night despite losing to Heard County, 2614 in a preseason football game in Franklin. LaGrange High received a second half spark behind two sophomore backups.
Quarterback Deandre Towns and wide receiver DJ Burks came off the La-Grange High bench, and they injected some life into a stagnant Granger offense. Towns, a 6-foot-2, 170pound transfer from Greenville High School, rushed for 51 yards on four carries from late in the third period to the end of the scrimmage.
Towns also had a 10yard scramble called back because of a Granger holding penalty. But Towns still went on to run for a 6-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
He also hooked up with Burks, the head coach’s son, on a 12-yard pass play with 4:28 left in the game. The late game heroics left the Grangers feeling good about themselves.
LaGrangeHighdidoutscore Heard County, 14-6 in the fourth quarter. The Grangers did not check out early. They didn’t quit.
“We were able to execute, and we got some momentum. We had to make plays, and everyone had that mindset. We had some fun,” said DJ Burks, who has been clocked at 4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
As for his touchdown catch, Burks did a good imitation of his dad, the former NFL wide receiver (Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles). “I just put my head down and ran to the spot,” said Burks.
The Grangers finished the preseason game with 11 first downs, 200 yards (170 rushing, 30 passing) and a second half surge. Towns ripped off a run of 25 yards for another La-Grange High first down.
“Deandre is just an athlete. He’s a playmaker, and he’s elusive. He’s a big guy,” said LaGrange High coach Dialleo Burks.
Although losing on this night, Burks was not down on his Grangers.
“We wanted to play hard, and we wanted to play all the way to the end. We have a great team. We just need to eliminate our mistakes,” said Burks.
What he liked was some special teams tackles from Myles Johnson, as well as a second quarter fumble recovery from Granger senior defensive back Chris Watson. LaGrange High got another fumble recovery from senior Dezhaun Artis at the Granger 37 yard line with 1:20 left in the third period.
Senior linebacker Jeremiah Holloway could be a future difference maker for the Grangers. Holloway had his moments against the Heard County Braves. Holloway stuffed Braves senior quarterback Emory Jones at the line of scrimmage during one third quarter play.
“LaGrange is going to be better than a year ago. They are improved,” said Heard County head football coach Tim Barron.
Granger junior Vondez Taylor blocked one extra point kick from Heard County in the first quarter. The Braves still got the best of LaGrange High in the scrimmage despite the play of Taylor, Deandre Towns, DJ Burks, Holloway and others.
Heard County got off to a 13-0 lead in the first half behind a 42-yard touchdown pass from Jones to Jaden Moreland and then a Jones 8-yard touchdown run as time ran out in the second period. Jakab Moon also added a PAT for the Braves.
In the third period the Braves would then make it a 20-0 lead with a Jones 25-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tight end Micaiah Austin and a Moon extra point kick. The last Heard County touchdown came in the fourth quarter on freshman running back Tae Gray’s 50-yard romp.
The Braves rushed for 143 yards on the night. Heard County also balanced things out with the strong right arm of Emory Jones. He rarely missed as he completed eight of nine passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
Jones verbally committed to Ohio State last year.
“We have some nice skill kids, and they did some good things. We established the run, and we had some play action (passes),” said Barron. “Emory read the (defensive) coverages.”
The Heard County Braves also got a yeoman performance from junior tailback Aaron Beasley with 41 yards on 12 carries.