MOUNT IDA – Post season honors continue to roll in for members of the Mount Ida Lions football team with Junior Jonathan Lagrange being presented with the Kevin Payne 2A Player of the Year Award last Friday. The award was presented by 42Sports.org
Lagrange was presented the award Friday during an assembly held at the Jeanne Smith Gymnasium in Mount Ida. Allen Russell and Kevin Payne were on hand to present him with the award in recognition of his success on both sides of the ball this past season.
Mount Ida finished the season 14-1. They were the 7-2A Conference Champions and the 2A State Runners-up. Lagrange was a huge part of their success, rushing for over 1400 yards and 28 touchdowns. He also was one of the leading tacklers on the defensive side of the ball.
Head Coach Mike White welcomed everyone to the assembly before turning the program over to Allen Russell, the founder of 42Sports.org. Russell explained that his website is an attempt to “change the narrative” when it came to the way small town football is covered statewide.
He shared how he had watched several talented athletes graduate from his alma mater of Marked Tree without any recognition, or attention. He decided to do something about it be creating 42Sports.org. His website focuses on schools in the 2A,3A, and 4A classifications in an attempt to shine a spotlight on talent that is otherwise going unnoticed in the smaller school districts.
The 2A Player of the Year award was named after Kevin Payne because he illustrated how an athlete from a small school could reach the highest levels of their respective sport. This is the first year for the award to be presented.
Kevin Payne then addressed the assembly, sharing his story of being a small school prospect who was able to make his from Junction City to the NFL.
Payne, a three sport star at Junction City decided in high school to focus on football in an attempt to play professional sports. He shared how he needed a lot of tenacity and grit to make it to the highest level of football. He talked about an injury that could have sidelined his hopes of a professional career while in his senior year of high school.
Payne broke some of his ribs during the second game of his senior season, but found the strength to play through the injury. He didn’t miss a game that season and went on to play college ball at the University of Louisiana Monroe, the only Division 1 School to recruit him.
Payne excelled on the college level and was named to the All Louisiana Team, setting up the final step to his dream of making it to the NFL. Payne’s childhood dream was realized in 2007 when he was the fifth player chosen by the Chicago Bears in the draft. Payne went on to earn a starting role for the Bears.
Payne told the students that his story was not all about being a professional athlete. The same tenacity and grit that helped him achieve his goals could help any of them reach the pinnacle of whatever career they strive to be a part of as an adult. He stressed that the key was to recognize the greatness in yourself.
Payne turned his attention to Jonathan Lagrange by sharing a story of when they first met. Payne had attended the Mount Ida v Foreman game played in October. After the game he presented Lagrange with the Player of the Game award. He talked about how he was struck by Lagrange’s humility while receiving his award that night. He concluded by pointing out Lagrange’s humility at receiving the first ever Kevin Payne 2A Player of the Year award.
Payne presented the award to Lagrange with the help of his parents Tina Lagrange and Dennis Lagrange.
Jonathan Lagrange asked his teammates to stand with him as he thanked his parents and coaches for helping him achieve the level of success he had reached. He then turned his attention to his teammates, giving them credit for his success, singling out his offensive line for the holes they opened up for him throughout the season.
As the assembly concluded Payne invited the Mount Ida lions senior high team to attend the Kevin Payne Foundation Football Camp to be held this Summer in Junction City.
For more information on 42Sports, or the Kevin Payne Foundation check them out on Facebook.