Tigers put on offensive clinic
By Kevin Eckleberry
LAGRANGE – It was a slow start for the Troup High offense, which went three-and-out on its first possession.
That was not a sign of things to come, though.
After that hiccup on the first possession, Troup’s offense was unstoppable during Friday’s preseason game against Harris County.
For the remainder of the first half and the third quarter, the Tigers scored seven touchdowns on the way to a 48-35 victory.
Senior starter Montez Crowe played the first half and led the Tigers to four touchdowns, and backup Sydney Lawson threw three scoring passes in the second half.
Six different Troup players scored touchdowns, with four Tigers snaring scoring catches.
It was a complete and dominant performance by an offense that figures to be hard to stop throughout the season.
Troup will open the regular season on Thursday night against Hardaway at Callaway Stadium.
“We’ve just got so many weapons offensively,” Troup head coach Tanner Glisson said. “We’ve got a tight end (Kenly Bridwell) that can play, we’ve got a quarterback that can play, we’ve got numerous receivers that can play. We’ve got a little speed with Marc-Anthony Dixon, who busted one for about 70 yards. So we’ve got a lot of weapons.”
An inexperienced offensive line that features mostly new starters excelled as well, giving the quarterbacks time to throw and the running backs room to maneuver.
“I thought they did a really good job, and they’re a really good group of kids that worked hard,” Glisson said. “They’re not overly-athletic, but they work extremely hard and are very well-coached. So we’re pretty pleased with where we are offensively.”
That the offense was on cruise control with Crowe at the helm isn’t surprising.
Crowe set multiple school records a year ago and the Tigers scored nearly 30 points per game.
The Tigers kept right on rolling even when Crowe wasn’t playing, though.
In the third quarter, Lawson took over, and he led the Tigers to three straight touchdowns.
Lawson is new to the Troup team after transferring from Harris County during the summer.
“Lawson is the heir apparent. We want to get him as many reps as we can,” Glisson said. “And he came in and threw two lasers. It was really good to see that. He threw a 25-yard strike on a rope, and then he threw a 70-yard touchdown bomb. That was good to see. He’s a big kid. He’s an athletic kid. He’s just now getting in our system, and we think he’s going to be pretty good.”
Lawson threw scoring passes to Macenta Stafford, Dixon and Jarell Smith in the third quarter, and Crowe’s touchdown pass went to Jamari Thrash.
Bridwell made some outstanding catches in traffic in the first half, and sophomore standout Kobe Hudson got into the act with a handful of receptions, including one for a two-point conversion.
Luke Purnell, a sophomore tight end, had a catch to set up a touchdown in the third quarter.
Crowe, while primarily a drop-back quarterback, is also capable of beating teams with his feet as he showed with two first-half scoring runs.
Tyree Carlisle had a touchdown run, and Jackson Davis and Trey Williams were effective in the running game as well.
Hudson, who had nine touchdown catches as a freshman, added a long run in the third quarter that led to a touchdown.
While thrilled with the offensive execution, Glisson felt the defense had a difficult night against a Harris County offense that also put up big numbers.
“It was very disappointing defensively,” Glisson said. “As happy and pleased as I was offensively, I was extremely disappointed defensively. Just the middle of our defense has got to get fixed. So we’re going to do some things different defensively. We’re going to trade some people out, we’re going to tweak the schemes a little bit. Because we’ve got to be better defensively. We can’t just rely on our offense to score every single series.”
Glisson felt a bright spot was the performance of senior kicker Brantly Robinson, who had to fill in after an injury to Cal Foster.
Troup’s starting place kicker and punter, Carson Wreyford, was unavailable because of an injury, and then Foster hurt himself attempting an extra point in the first quarter.
Robinson stepped in and performed well on extra points and punts.
“We were down to our third kicker with Brantly Robinson,” Glisson said. “Carson Wreyford, we held him out because he had a slight issue. And Cal came in and pulled a muscle on the first PAT and tried to kick the second one but was hurt so bad he couldn’t. But Brantly came in and did a fine job after that. To be down to your third kicker and still be able to hold the fort was really good. That just speaks to the depth.”