Tigers hope to fly high this season
By Kevin Eckleberry
LAGRANGE – With quarterback Montez Crowe pulling the trigger, the Troup High offense had no trouble chewing up yards and putting points on the scoreboard last season.
While the Tigers are having to replace some talented offensive players because of graduation, they figure to be an offensive force again this season.
Crowe is back, as are many of the men who helped the Tigers enjoy a breakout offensive season, including big-play wide receiver Kobe Hudson.
On Saturday, Crowe and company will be at Auburn University for a seven-on-seven tournament.
“This is the first tournament we’ve gone to,” said Troup offensive coordinator Kelby Holt. “We’ve gone to round-robin-types where it’s three or four teams. But this will be the biggest one we’ve gone to. We don’t want to focus on it too much. You can’t get caught up in it.”
Still, since scores will be kept, the intensity will be there.
“They take it seriously, no doubt,” Holt said.
The primary focus, though, is getting ready for a new season that is less than a month away.
Troup will host Harris County for a preseason game on Aug. 10, and it will open the regular season at home against Hardaway on Aug. 17.
The Tigers enjoyed a breakout 2016 season.
After going 1-9 in 2015, Troup was 8-3 last year, and it hosted a playoff game after finishing second in Region 5-AAAA.
Crowe had a lot to do with the Tigers’ success.
He played some at quarterback in 2015, and he was the starter for the team’s one and only win in the season finale against Whitewater.
Last year, the job was Crowe’s from day one, and he excelled, setting a school single-season record for touchdowns and yards.
Holt arrived as Troup’s offensive coordinator the summer before the 2015 season, and he has been working closely with Crowe since then.
“When we first got here, Montez, it was can you run three plays? It was zone-read bubble, and power read, and one pass play,” Holt said. “And he was really good at them, but you could see that first year, he was growing. He had all the tools. And then last year, it was now we’ve got to make him the quarterback, make him the guy, and he really grew up in the offseason.”
Holt said Crowe blossomed while working with quarterbacks coach Paul Brewer.
“In the summer, coach Brewer took over with the throwing mechanics and everything,” Holt said. “And that was the game-changer. We knew he’d be good, but we didn’t know how well we’d throw the ball.”
Two of Crowe’s favorite targets from a year ago, Chanse Hill and Ken Truitt, have graduated, as has outstanding running back Camren Russell.
The cupboard is far from bare, though.
Hudson had a sensational freshman season while averaging more than 25 yards per catch, and MaCenta Stafford was having a big year catching the ball before he was lost for an injury late in the season.
Also back is tight end Kenly Bridwell, as well as talented running backs Jackson Davis and Tyree Carlisle.
Holt is also excited about the prospects for some up-and-coming offensive players, including sophomore wide receivers Jarell Smith and Marc-Anthony Dixon.
“You’ve got some really good, young, talented guys like Jarrell Smith. He had a heck of a spring, and he’s only going to be a sophomore,” Holt said. “And we’ve got Marc Anthony-Dixon. He made it to state in the 100 meter. He’s a 10.8 kid that can fly, and he’s only going to be a sophomore. He’s got wheels.”
The Tigers will wrap up their summer schedule next week.
In addition to the morning workout sessions at the school, Troup will be at Northside-Columbus on Thursday for an 11-on-11 padded camp.
Troup will begin official preseason practice on July 25, and teams can begin holding full-contact drills on Aug. 1.
Part of the team’s summer program has been regular yoga sessions, and Holt said that has been a major benefit.
“All the yoga and everything we’ve been doing this summer has made all our guys so much more flexible,” Holt said. “They look like they’re moving better.”