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Kickoff time for Tigers

By Kevin Eckleberry

kevin.eckleberry@lagrangenews.com

LAGRANGE – Here we go.

The Troup Tigers, who are coming off a breakthrough 2016 season, will get things started today with a home game against the Hardaway Hawks.

A year ago, Troup opened its season with a 21-14 road loss to Hardaway, and head coach Tanner Glisson expects another tough challenge this year.

“They beat us last year. And they were one of two team to beat us in the regular season, so they’ve got our attention,” said Glisson, who is entering his third season as Troup’s head coach. “And the deal is, they’re getting good athletes down there right now, too. They’ve had guys move in that are good athletes, and they’ve got returning guys that are good athletes. So, we’re going to have our hands full. They’re more athletic than the team (Harris County) we saw this past Friday, so it’ll be interesting to see how we match up.”

The loss to Hardaway a year ago was not a sign of things to come.

Troup followed up that setback with an eight-game winning streak that ended with a loss to Cartersville in the regular-season finale.

Many of the players who helped the Tigers go 8-3 a year ago are back, and Glisson believes what happens tonight won’t impact their mindset one way or another.

“I feel like with this team, the tone has kind of already been set,” Glisson said. “It feels like we’ve been doing this for a little while now. Whether we win, or whether we don’t, I don’t know that either way in the whole scheme of things that it’s really going to factor into the end of the season. The bigger thing is, trying to execute how we execute.”

Troup tuned up for the season by playing Harris County in a preseason game last week.

Troup’s offense was unstoppable while scoring seven touchdowns, while the defense struggled a bit in the 48-35 loss.

Senior quarterback Montez Crowe, who’ll be at the helm tonight, did a great job of distributing the ball to a bunch of different players last week.

“From an Xs and Os standpoint, we’re ready,” Glisson said. “Where we’re not ready is the speed of game tackling and all that kind of stuff.  Those are things, especially with the restrictions they have these days, you have to be very creative to practice that. So, that’s the biggest concern with me.”

In Glisson’s first season at Troup, the team struggled to a 1-9 record.

A year ago, the groundwork that was laid in 2015 paid dividends as the Tigers went 8-3 and finished second in Region 5-AAAA.

“We dealt with so much adversity at every turn (in 2015),” Glisson said. “And it didn’t show up on the scoreboard, but we handled it appropriately at every turn. Every time we dealt with adversity, we fought, and we didn’t quit. We decided to be positive with the adversity.”

The Tigers appear poised to do some special things this season, although Glisson has cautioned against focusing too much on what happened a year ago.

Glisson said “we’ve still got a long ways to go. But that’s every year. It’s a new team, and we can’t live on what we did last year. We’ve got to coach this team, the 2017 team.”

Glisson believes one of the strengths of this team is its depth, and that could come into play early in the season when the games are played in the summer heat.

“We have pretty good depth,” Glisson said. “We have a lot more depth than we had in this game last year. We had a lot of guys going both ways, and we fought the cramp issues in the fourth quarter. That’s really when this one was decided late in the game. So we’ll see how we’re prepared. We feel like we’re in pretty decent shape.”