LaFayette boys lock up state play­off berth

Graham

The Catoosa County News - - WORSHIP DIRECTORY - By Scott Herpst

The LaFayette Ram­blers had plenty of rea­sons to cel­e­brate af­ter their 4-0 vic­tory last Tues­day night at Jack King Sta­dium.

For starters, its was their sixth win of the sea­son, giv­ing LaFayette its most wins in a sin­gle sea­son since head coach Casey Payne took over the pro­gram six years ago. Se­condly, it gave LaFayette a sea­son sweep over Ridge­land in the county and re­gion ri­valry.

But both those things paled in com­par­i­son to rea­son No. 3 - the LaFayette Ram­blers are go­ing back to the Class 4A state tour­na­ment.

For the first time in sev­eral years, the Orange-and-Black have a se­cured a ticket to the dance as they are 4-0 in 6-AAAA play with just two re­gion matches re­main­ing.

“We knew at the be­gin­ning of the year that we didn’t re­ally have a weak spot on the field,” Payne ex­plained. “About two or three matches into the sea­son, the last time we played at Ridge­land ac­tu­ally, we hit a wave and it hasn’t bro­ken yet. We’ve just kept it go­ing and it’s awe­some.”

LaFayette gut­ted out a 2-1 vic­tory over Ridge­land in a non­re­gion matchup early in the year, but the Ram­blers would take care of busi­ness early and of­ten in the re­match.

In the open­ing minute of the match, Tobey Aggeler took a feed from Ju­lian Mur­ray and knocked home the first goal of the night. Seven min­utes later, Ethan Kennedy scored off of a long throw-in by Matthew New­som and Aggeler would score unas­sisted in the 15th minute to make it 3-0 and leave the Pan­thers reel­ing.

To Ridge­land’s credit, they re­grouped quickly and con­tin­ued to press the at­tack, but the LaFayette de­fense would have none of it as the back row made sev­eral tremen­dous plays all night. Keeper Jett Har­ri­son made four saves, two at point-blank range, to pre­serve the shutout.

The night’s fi­nal goal was a re­peat of the sec­ond goal as a long throw by New­som dropped right on the fore­head on Kennedy, who nudged it past the keeper with ap­prox­i­mately 20 min­utes to play.

LaFayette would out­shoot Ridge­land on the night, 12-4.

The Ram­blers still con­trol their own destiny in the re­gion with two matches re­main­ing against pow­er­houses South­east (April 12) and North­west (April 17) who, like LaFayette are also still cur­rently un­beaten in re­gion play. Both of those matches will be played on LaFayette turf.

Re­gard­less of the out­comes of those two matches, how­ever, the Ram­blers are as­sured of no less than a No. 3 seed when the state play­offs

to our pro­gram and I’m ex­cited to see what he does at GNTC. I have a lot of re­spect for (Bob­cats head) Coach (David) Stephen­son and I’m ex­cited for Stone’s fu­ture.”

Graham said per­sonal glory comes sec­ond to team glory as far as he was con­cerned.

“I like to put the team first,” he ex­plained. “It doesn’t mat­ter if I score or if (my team­mates) score. It’s about get­ting the “W” more than any­thing.”

Stephen­son said find­ing play­ers with at­ti­tudes like Graham’s and Byrd’s is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly rare.

“You don’t see a lot of team stuff in the game to­day,” he said. “So for us to get two (team-first) guys in two days is a very good start for next year. Both of th­ese kids just play hard, no mat­ter what the score is, and they make team­mates bet­ter.

“One of the things we talked about with our guys this past sea­son is hav­ing a goal of mak­ing your team­mates bet­ter. When peo­ple get­ting fin­ished play­ing with you, you want them to say it was a priv­i­lege to play with you.”

Stephen­son said hav­ing a player of Graham’s skill set will al­low his Bob­cats to do be­gin next month.

“(Qual­i­fy­ing for state) it’s some­thing that’s very spe­cial to me, per­son­ally,” said Payne, who played a home state play­off match dur­ing his se­nior sea­son at LaFayette. “Th­ese guys have worked hard for it, they de­serve it and I know they are all thrilled about it.”

The Lady Ram­blers scored a shutout win in the night’s first match. Se­nior Ash­lyn Hag­gard scored the first two goals for LaFayette, both com­ing on as­sists from Bai­ley Tarvin.

Tarvin scored on a di­rect kick to cap the scor­ing with Ash­ton Stallings get­ting credit for the as­sist.

All three goals came in the open­ing half.

Keeper Shelby Ad­kins earned the shutout in net with as­sis­tance from de­fen­sive stand­outs Kyla Bur­nette, Gra­cie Hess, Me­gan Wilson and Cait­lyn Wat­son.

An­gel­ica Crowe, Katie Car­ruth and Whit­ney Boehm had shots on goal for the Lady Pan­thers (1-9, 0-5). Ri­ley McBee got the start in goal.

LaFayette boys 3, Chat­tooga 0

The Ram­blers (7-2, 4-0) scored a shutout win in the night’s sec­ond match on Fri­day. Wes In­gram had two goals and one Brodie Leiser added one as sev­eral starters got the night off.

Parker Lively had an as­sist and Beau Thrash came up with three saves to se­cure the shutout.

The Lady Ram­blers (6-2, 2-2) blitzed the Lady In­di­ans Fri­day night at Jack King Sta­dium. Wilson had a hat trick, in­clud­ing her fourth suc­cess­ful penalty kick of the sea­son.

Tarvin also had a hat trick, while fresh­man Imani Cook notched a goal in the win.

Darcey Shields col­lected two as­sists, while Wilson and Kailee Queen each had one.

LaFayette took 25 shots on goal, while keep­ers Ad­kins and Railee Lynn com­bined for 11 saves on the night.

some dif­fer­ent things on the court next sea­son.

“One of the things I want to do with him, Eric and a few more guys that we have com­ing back is play more man de­fense and press a lot more,” he con­tin­ued. “Stone has some size on him and he’s not afraid to get af­ter it. If we can get four or five guys with

that kind of at­ti­tude, we can play more man and try and push the ball a lot more.

“We’re ex­cited. We’ve al­ways been able to get good kids from LaFayette and they had a great year this past sea­son.”

Graham said he is con­sid­er­ing weld­ing as his course of study while at GNTC.

LFO’s Zach and Chris­tian Vaughn show off some of the haul that earned them sec­ond place in the most re­cent NWGHSAA tour­na­ment at Weiss Lake in Cen­tre, Ala. (Con­trib­uted photo) LaFayette girls 3, Ridge­land 0

LaFayette se­nior Ash­lyn Hag­gard looks to get around a Chat­tooga de­fender dur­ing Fri­day’s match in LaFayette. The Lady Ram­blers racked up seven goals in a 7-2 vic­tory over the Lady In­di­ans and im­proved to 6-2 over­all on the sea­son. (Con­trib­uted photo)...

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