Troup continues spring practice
By Kevin Eckleberry
LAGRANGE – Last May, the Troup Tigers embarked on spring practice with a chip on their shoulder.
It was a team coming off a difficult 2015 season.
The Tigers lost their first nine games, and only a victory in the final week of the regular season allowed them to avoid a winless season.
In part due to the good work the Tigers put in during last year’s spring practice, the 2016 season was a drastically different one.
Troup enjoyed one of the biggest turnarounds in the state, going from 1-9 to 8-3.
The Tigers finished second in Region 5-AAAA, and they lost a close one to West Hall in the opening round of the state playoffs.
Now, as the Tigers make their way through another spring practice, the mission is to keep improving, to continue striving for excellence.
At the moment, Troup head coach Tanner Glisson said there’s a long way to go.
“We’re nowhere close to where we need to be,” Glisson said after Monday’s practice session. “We’re nowhere close to being as good as we were last year, even though we’re probably more athletic now. I don’t know if we’re out of shape, although it’s probably hard to get in shape right now. We look out of shape, and we’re a little nonchalant, a little bit like we’ve earned something, and we haven’t earned anything.”
Glisson added that “we’ve got a lot of work cut out for us. We just need to get after it.”
While there is work to do, there is plenty of enthusiasm surrounding the Troup football program.
After losing their season opener last fall, the Tigers won eight of their next nine games before falling to West Hall 24-21 at Callaway Stadium.
Many of the players responsible for last year’s success have returned, including freshman wide receiver Kobe Hudson, who has accumulated a few dozen college offers even though he still has three seasons of high-school football left.
Also returning is quarterback Montez Crowe, who put up big numbers last season, as well as linebacker King Mwikuta, who like Hudson will have plenty of options when it comes time to choose a college.
While those men have shown what they can do on a Friday night, Glisson said spring practice is more about the unproven players.
Glisson said it’s important to keep that in mind, even though Troup will end its spring-practice period with a scrimmage game against Callaway on May 19.
“In my mind, at least in years past, spring has also been about the unknown,” Glisson said. “We know what Montez Crowe is going to be. So you hate to lose that piece of spring, just because you’re getting eady to play a game against somebody that shares the same town with you.”
Glisson said he’s also looking to build some depth during the spring.
“Right now, we’re just trying to play a lot of people,” Glisson said. “I don’t know if we’re ready for that. We may have to revert back to playing two or three people playing both ways. We’ll see how it transpires.”
The Tigers began spring practice on May 3, and they’ll continue through May 19 when they take on the Callaway Cavaliers at Callaway Stadium, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m.
“You’re excited, because you want to go play them, because you know they’re going to be good, and you think we’re going to be good,” Glisson said. “But then it’s also that deal of you want to keep doing the fundamental things in spring that you’re always supposed to do.
“So, they’re kind of in the same situation I don’t think either one of us is going to be prepared to play a true game. But we’ll give it our best shot and see what happens.”
Soon after spring practice ends, the Tigers will begin their busy summer schedule, and they’ll open official preseason practice the last week in July.
Then on Aug. 17, a Thursday, a new season kicks off with a home game against Hardaway.
“It’ll be here before you know it,” Glisson said. “Once you get this game behind you, you get school over with, and before you know it summer’s over and the season’s here.”
With so many players returning, expectations will be high for the Tigers.
“Last year we snuck up some folks,” Glisson said. “There won’t be any sneaking this year.”