Troup’s Bonner is a play-maker
LAGRANGE – He’s a touchdown waiting to happen.
When Troup running back Mess Bonner gets his hands on the football, there’s always a possibility he’ll be celebrating with his teammates in the end zone moments later.
Over the past two seasons, Bonner has scored a bunch of touchdowns, and many of them have come from long range.
In last week’s game against Carrollton, Bonner scored both of his team’s touchdowns, one on a 65-yard scoring catch, and the other on a 40-yard touchdown run.
While the season has been a struggle for the Tigers, who head into today’s game at Fayette County with an 0-8 record, they have had their share of success on offense.
Bonner is a big reason why.
He is the most explosive player on the Troup team, and when he gets in the open field, he has rarely been caught.
“I just try to give them a spark,” Bonner said. “I know I’ve got a chance of making a big play in a game. I feel right now, if I get past the D-line, if I get past the linemen, I’m gone.”
He has shown that repeatedly.
Against Sandy Creek, Bonner had a 90-yard touchdown run late in the game.
In the Callaway game, Bonner scored two touchdowns, with one coming on a 69-yard scoring pass from Dexter Shealey.
He also had a 40-yard touchdown run against Carver, as well as a 30-yard catch that set up another score.
He also scored touchdowns against LaGrange, Northgate, and he has been a dual threat making plays running the ball, and catching it.
Bonner has also been playing a lot on defense, making him one of the busiest players on the team.
“I don’t get tired until I score, until I get to the sidelines,” Bonner said with a grin.
Troup offensive coordinator Kelby Holt is glad to have Bonner on the field.
“Mess, you get him past the first level, and it’s on then,” Holt said. “When he turns it on, he’s got another gear. When he sees green grass, he turns it on.”
While Bonner has had his share of individual success, he’d trade all the stats and touchdowns for some wins.
For a senior playing his final season of high-school football, it has been a disappointing season, but Bonner hasn’t hung his head.
“We’re just trying to stay positive,” Bonner said. “We don’t worry about any of the negativity.”
Troup still has a chance to make the state playoffs if it beats Fayette County tonight and Whitewater next week.
“If we win two and get to the playoffs, everybody will forget about the record,” Bonner said. “Everybody will be 0-0 in the playoffs.”
Bonner is part of an offense with a plethora of play-makers.
Junior Camren Russell teams with Bonner to give Troup a potent one-two combination at running back.
Senior Tremayne Tolbert has been the team’s top wide receiver the past few seasons, and he has continued to make plays this year even though he faces constant double teams.
“Tremayne Tolbert is an explosive guy, but everybody we play double covers him,” Holt said. “It’s been hard to get him the ball.”
Despite that, Tolbert has still made plays this season, oftentimes making catches while having defenders draped all over him.
“If it’s in my vicinity, I’ll catch it,” Tolbert said.
Travis Johnson has also been a dependable target for Troup’s quarterbacks.
Dexter Shealey didn’t begin the season at quarterback, but since the third game he has taken the bulk of the snaps at that position.
“He’s gotten a little more confident, trusting his line a little bit more,” Tolbert said of Shealey. “He’s ready to go. He knows how the game works. We’re just rolling with him.”
Montez Crowe, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, has also played a fair amount at quarterback, including the entire second half of last week’s game against Carrollton.
“We’re learning both of those quarterbacks, what they can and can’t do,” Holt said. “We know what Crowe can do, we know what Shealey can do. We’ll put Crowe in a position where he can make plays, and we’ll put Shealey in position where he can make plays.”
All of the offensive players have had to learn a new system this season, and Tolbert said everyone has been working diligently to get things clicking.
“We’ve been working hard,” he said. “We work on a play until it’s perfect. Every week, whatever we messed up on, we go into the film room and tweak it until you get it right. We practice it every day.”
Troup’s offensive line will be buoyed this week by the return of Jorge Benitez, who has been out with an injury.
Troup’s other starting offensive linemen are Hudson Newton, Brandon Barronton, Tim Huguley and Mark Seymour.
Senior offensive lineman Gabe Dowden has been out for much of the season with an injury, and Seymour has stepped up and helped fill the void.
“Mark has stepped up a lot since he started,” Newton said. “He’s ended up being a big part of the line.”
While the offense has gotten better and better, the defense has also made strides.
Even though the wins haven’t come, Tolbert said “we’ve gotten way better.”
“We came from the offense not clicking, and the defense not clicking, to everybody just slowly gelling together,” Tolbert said. “Now hopefully for these last two games we’ll come out with two wins and then go to the playoffs and still be hot and confident, and just keep rolling.” Tolbert said.
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports