To view this site, you need to have Flash Player 8.0 or later installed. Click here to get the latest Flash player.
La Grande head coach Kenny Mace and quarterback Brandon Dall have a little chat during practice Thursday. The Tigers open the season today against Nyssa at 6 p.m. (Paul Harder/The Observer)
In shape La Grande ready for season opener against Nyssaup-tempo offense
Tyson Wicklander and the rest of his team finally get to hit someone other than their own teammates. After two weeks of two-a-day practices, La Grande has reached game week.
“We’re ready,” Wicklander said. “And excited. It was a tough build up to the season, but it helped us get into great shape and come together as a team.”
La Grande got a taste of what it has been progressing towards during a scrimmage last Friday. It was the first time running the new offense in a game-type situation.
Tigers head coach Kenny Mace said the team finally understood what the grueling practices were meant for.
“They were all shocked at how well they handled the running,” Mace said. “It’s like it clicked, and they understood we just weren’t making them run for the fun of it.
“They hit a wall last Wedneday. As coaches we were looking for when that was going to happen, it was going to come. We backed it off quite a bit after that. But I have no doubt we’ll be in shape for the game Friday.”
One thing is for sure. La Grande is well ahead of where it started last season, Mace’s first as head coach. Losing the opener against Nyssa, 58-14.
“Well, we’ve had more than a week to get our offense together,” Mace said laughing.
“It’s not hard to be ahead of where we were last season. I didn’t know the first thing about Nyssa going into the week of the game. I actually called and talked to the head coach and we both helped each other out.”
In Mace’s first season La Grande picked up 1,351 total yards of offense, 641 on the ground and 547 throught the air.
The key tonight for the Tigers will be quarterback Brandon Dall. Instead of splitting the duties with Wicklander it will be Dall’s job outright behind center.
Last season Dall completed nine passes for 127 yards on 34 attempts.
This season is completely different, and Dall is excited to see his new targets.
“We’ve got a different look on offense, so I’m not thinking about last season,” Dall said. “I was impressed during the scrimmage with how it looked and it felt good.
“We’ve got some new weapons to use, too. The Cranford twins (Alec and Isaiah) are going to be fun to throw to this season. What quarterback wouldn’t like a pair of 6-foot-5 recievers to throw to.”
It will also be the first time that the Tigers use the 3-4 defense with Mace at the helm.
The focus will be on Bulldogs’ quarterback Austin Wagstaff.
In the opening game of the season, Wagstaff completed 8-of-10 pass attempts for 197 yards with four touchdowns.