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Troup’s Crowe ready for big senior season

By Kevin Eckleberry

kevin.eckleberry@lagrangenews.com

LAGRANGE – He’s aiming high.

Montez Crowe enjoyed a breakout junior season as a starting quarterback, smashing school records while helping lead the Troup Tigers to an 8-3 record and a second-place finish in Region 5-AAAA.

As accomplished a player as Crowe was a year ago, though, he’s always striving to be better, and one of the men he’s chasing is Cartersville quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

Lawrence, like Crowe a senior, is one of the state’s best quarterbacks, and his Purple Hurricanes have won back-to-back state championships.

There is nothing left for Lawrence to accomplish as a high-school player, but Crowe knows he’s not resting on his laurels.

“I look at Trevor Lawrence, and that’s the guy I want to be,” Crowe said. “I know he’s not stopping on a daily basis, so I’ve got to keep striving. I just try to get better day by day.”

Crowe will face Lawrence’s Purple Hurricanes in the regular-season finale this season, and a Region 5-AAAA championship could be on the line for a second straight year.

A year ago, Troup brought an eight-game winning streak into the Cartersville game.

Cartersville won that game on the way to a second straight 15-0 season.

It was a tough night for Troup, but it was nonetheless a special season for Crowe and his teammates.

Troup, which fell to West Hall in the opening round of the state playoffs, enjoyed one of the state’s biggest turnarounds last year after going 1-9 in 2015.

Crowe had a lot to do with the Tigers’ success.

The 6-foot-5-inch Crowe set Troup single-season records for passing yards and touchdowns.

The Tigers averaged nearly 30 points per game, and they did a lot of the damage through the air with Crowe getting the ball to some talented receivers, including then freshman Kobe Hudson, who had nine scoring catches.

Two of Crowe’s favorite targets last season were Ken Truitt and Chanse Hill, and they’ve both graduated.

Crowe isn’t worried about a lack of options in the passing game, though.

Hudson is back for his sophomore year, and MaCenta Stafford returns after suffering a season-ending injury last season.

Junior Jamari Trash, who had a big sophomore season at LaGrange, has transferred to Troup, and Jarell Smith and Marc Anthony-Dixon should bolster the receiving corps as well.

Another man who could be a favorite target of Crowe’s is senior tight end Kenly Bridwell.

“We’ve got Kobe Hudson. We’ve got a new guy Thrash, and he’s good,” Crowe said. “We’ve got young guys in the backfield. We’ve got the firepower, we just need the leadership.”

Crowe said his message to all of the receivers is that there will be plenty of completions to go around.

“Everybody’s going to get the ball,” Crowe said. “You have some games where you go for 200 yards, and some games with two yards. Your opportunity will come.”

Crowe got his first playing time at quarterback during his sophomore season, and he was the starter for the regular-season finale against Whitewater.

That was the only game Troup won that season.

During the offseason, Crowe worked closely with offensive coordinator Kelby Holt and quarterbacks coach Paul Brewer to develop as a pocket passer.

The work paid off, and Crowe was the trigger man for a high-powered offense in 2016.

“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.”

Now, Crowe is looking for even bigger things as a senior as Troup attempts to duplicate or even surpass the success it enjoyed a year ago.

Crowe said he and the players who endured the one-win season in 2015 use that as motivation to keep striving to improve.

“Last year we had a lot of leadership, because those guys went through the 1-9 season,” Crowe said. “I know what that was like. I’m always working hard.”