If there’s one difference between the LaGrange team Cartersville football saw last year in a 52-7 win and this year’s team, it’s on offense.
“They’ve got more of an identity at this point in the season offensively than they did last year,” head coach Joey King said.
When the Canes played LaGrange last year, the Grangers were in the process of switching up their offense.
Now, they have recreated themselves as a wing-T team — the second week in a row Cartersville will face a team that runs the offense.
This plays into Cartersville’s strengths — King ran the offense at Carrollton for four years, so he has an intimate understanding of the intricacies of the offense and what makes it go.
Of course, on paper, this game, an away matchup for the Canes, is an enormous mismatch in favor of Cartersville. LaGrange’s record is a palindrome for Cartersville’s — the Canes are undefeated and 6-0, and LaGrange is winless in its six games.
And the Grangers were shut out in their first three games of the season. They’ve averaged 8.6 points per game since.
LaGrange is coming off a 38-10 loss to Cedartown in which it failed to score in the second half.
Cedartown, of course, was undefeated until it ran into Cartersville a few weeks ago in a 41-7 beatdown.
King doesn’t like to put much stock in common opponents, but it is only natural to compare and contrast results.
LaGrange’s recent struggles are a departure from what, for a long while, was the narrative surrounding LaGrange football. It used to be one of the best programs in the state, and its six state titles are tied for 11th-best in Georgia high school football history.
But LaGrange has been in a 2010s rut — its last winning season came in 2009, with some .500 seasons sprinkled in between.
Head coach Dialleo Burks took over in 2014, and is 10-17 in his three years at the helm.
Strange among this, and indicative of what it once was, is LaGrange’s overall head-to-head record against Cartersville — they are 5-1 against the Canes.
That sole loss came last year, and in the context of Friday’s matchup, it means very little.
For Cartersville, there are players to watch on LaGrange, whose athleticism King emphasized.
“They’ve still got some really good football players,” King said.
The Grangers play two different quarterbacks, Sammy Caputo, a freshman, and DeAundre Towns, a sophomore.
But King calls the LaGrange offense “run heavy,” as a wing-T offense is known to be. LaGrange gives carries to a slew of players.
Cornell Kendrick leads the Grangers in rushing — “he’s tough inside,” King said.
Trez Delaney, Myles Johnson and Andreka Martin among others have also seen time.
On defense, LaGrange has talent in the secondary, with Lequincy Shepherd and Vondez Taylor contributing.
This game is a bit of a trek for Cartersville, which will take an almost two-hour road trip to LaGrange.
King said that the team plans on stopping in Carrollton to get a bite to eat and continuing on from there.
And in a bit of coachspeak, that this host has yet to notch a one in the win column is irrelevant.
“For us, it’s not ever about who we’re playing,” King said. “We tell the kids all the time, ‘We’re playing Cartersville this week.’”