Troup’s passing game is flying high
LAGRANGE – Troup’s aerial attack is on target.
As the Tigers prepared for a new season, the offensive coaches were committed to having a balanced offense that relied heavily on the passing game.
That plan has come together nicely.
The Tigers (8-1) are scoring more than 33 points per game, and an explosive passing game led by quarterback Montez Crowe is a big reason why.
Crowe’s favorite targets are seniors Ken Truitt and Chanse Hill, along with freshman Kobe Hudson, who has nearly half of the team’s touchdown catches.
Junior receiver MaCenta Stafford has also been a big part of the passing game, although he has unfortunately been lost for the season due to an injury.
Hill said the receivers worked closely with Crowe and offensive coordinator Kelby Holt throughout the offseason, knowing how critical the passing game would be this season.
“In the offseason, (Holt) said we’re going to throw the ball more,” Hill said. “And we just worked on it. We’ve been working on it since January. We wake up in the morning and we’ll come in the gym and just throw passes. We’ve got the timing down. It’s exciting.”
Truitt said the passing game was a work in progress throughout the summer.
“In the summer league, we struggled at first,” Truitt said. “But the more we did it, the better we got.”
Truitt and Hill came into the season having shown they can make plays when the ball is thrown in their direction.
As for Hudson, while his talent was obvious, the question was could a freshman settle in and become an impact player on the high-school level?
The answer is a resounding yes.
Hudson has nearly 20 receptions (for a 30-yard average), and he has seven touchdown catches, which is tops on the team.
Hudson also has an interception return for a score, and he returned a kickoff for a touchdown last week against Central-Carroll.
Hudson said the time he and Crowe spent together during the summer was extremely helpful.
“We stayed after practice, we passed together,” Hudson said. “He got to know me, how fast I run. We got connected like that.”
Hudson made his presence known right away when he made a touchdown catch in Troup’s season opener against Hardaway.
Hudson had two touchdown catches the following week against Kendrick, and he also had a pair of scoring receptions against Lamar County.
He added single scoring catches in the games against Bowdon and LaGrange, and he had the pick six in the big win over Sandy Creek.
While the older players on the team have had to endure some difficult times, it’s been almost nothing but winning for Hudson.
Troup lost its opener to Hardaway, but it hasn’t fallen since, and it will take an eight-game winning streak into Friday’s showdown with Cartersville for the Region 5-AAAA championship.
“It’s been fun,” Hudson said. “I’m loving it right now. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
On the other end of the spectrum are Truitt and Hill, who have seen their share of ups and downs over the past four years.
The lowest moment came a year ago when Troup struggled to a 1-9 record, and the two seniors are obviously enjoying life on the football field a lot more now.
“It’s been a blast,” Truitt said. “It’s been great.”
As special as the season has been so far, Hill said “we don’t want to stop. We want to keep playing, keep winning.”
The Tigers are guaranteed at least two more games.
Following Friday’s game against Cartersville, Troup will be at home next week for the opening round of the state playoffs.
In both games, the passing attack figures to be an integral part of the game plan.
Truitt and Hill both have nearly 40 catches between them, and they have combined for seven touchdowns.
In last week’s win over Central-Carroll, Truitt made a diving catch in the end zone for a touchdown.
Hudson leads the way with his seven touchdown catches, and Stafford had nine catches with a touchdown before he was lost for the season.
In recent weeks, tight end Kenly Bridwell has become more involved in the passing game, and he had a touchdown catch against Central-Carroll.
Camren Russell has a handful of catches out of the backfield, and he had a 48-yard reception on a screen pass earlier in the season.
The man who is delivering the passes is Crowe, who has thrived in his first season as a starter.
Crowe’s only start a year ago came in the season finale against Whitewater, and he helped lead Troup to its only win.
Crowe has thrown for 1,529 yards with 16 touchdowns, and Truitt said it’s “amazing” how much progress he’s made since last year.
“He took a huge leap from last year,” Truitt said.
Hill said Crowe seems much more at ease now after a full offseason working with the coaches.
“He’s more relaxed than he was last year,” Hill said.
Troup head coach Tanner Glisson said the team puts a lot on Crowe.
“I don’t think a lot of people have seen the style of offense we run,” Glisson said. “Our style of offense is very unique, because we RPO almost everything. We do a run-pass option on every single thing we do almost. Some people may run an RPO, but we run a whole offense based on it. I don’t think a lot of people have seen what we do. And kudos to coach Holt and those guys.”
Glisson said the offense succeeds largely because of Crowe.
“It works when you’ve got a guy like that that can do it,” Glisson said. “We may not always have a guy like that. We’re very thankful.”
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports