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Troup’s Stafford happy to be back

By Kevin Eckleberry

kevin.eckleberry@lagrangenews.com

LAGRANGE – It was good to be back.

Late in the 2016 season, Troup’s Macenta Stafford went down with an injury, and he didn’t return.

Stafford had hoped to play in the spring game against Callaway, but he was unable to go.

When Troup opened the season against Hardaway last week, though, Stafford was on the field, locked and loaded and ready to play.

Stafford, who started at defensive back, helped Troup outlast Hardaway 31-28.

A year ago, Troup began the season with a 21-14 loss to Hardaway, so Stafford was happy to be on the other side of that ledger.

“It’s a wonderful feeling,” Stafford said. “It feels so great right now, because last year we lost this game. Everybody was hurt. So it feels good to have that momentum. We’re 1-0.”

Perhaps no one was as pleased as Stafford to be on the turf of Callaway Stadium last week, and the smile he wore after the game’s conclusion bore witness to that.

“It feels great,” Stafford said. “I thought I was going to play in the Callaway game, but I went to the doctor and had a sprain, and I didn’t know when I was going to play again.”

A year ago, the Tigers were in the midst of a special season when Stafford suffered a season-ending injury with three regular-season games to play.

At the time, Stafford was one of Troup’s top offensive play-makers as a wide receiver, and he was a key member of an inexperienced defense.

After going 1-9 in 2015, Troup bounced back and posted an 8-3 record last season while finishing second in Region 5-AAAA.

“It hurt being out last year because I knew my team needed me, but it feels great to be back,” Stafford said. “I’m ready to go.”

Stafford did his part to help the Tigers prevail in last week’s game.

Stafford, who also plays wide receiver and had a touchdown catch in a preseason game against Harris County, led the team with seven solo tackles against Hardaway, and he also had an assist.

While pleased to see his team come away with a win, Stafford knows the defense will need to perform better moving forward.

“We’ve got to work on tackling, filling the gaps,” Stafford said. “There’s a lot of stuff we’ve got to improve on.”

Fortunately for the Tigers, they were still able to win despite surrendering 28 points.

Stafford, who sees how explosive the offense is on a daily basis, wasn’t surprised to see the Tigers do so much damage last week.

“They do that to us every day in practice,” Stafford said. “So we knew.”

Troup will face Kendrick at 11 a.m. on Saturday in Columbus.