Troup’s Ligon keys strong defense

Published 1:34 pm Thursday, September 28, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – He just makes plays.

The 5-foot-10 Nick Ligon may not be the most physically-imposing player on the Troup football team, but when he puts the uniform on, he is a force.

Ligon is a junior outside linebacker, and he’ll be a key player for the Tigers as they take the field against the Sandy Creek Patriots on Friday night in a critical Region 5-AAAA game.

Nick Ligon missed time in the spring because of an injury, and he didn’t play in a Week 2 game against Bowdon, but he’s at full strength now and will be ready to lead his team on Friday.

“Nick did not play in the spring, and he had a hamstring and we held him out Bowdon game,” Troup head coach Tanner Glisson said. “He’s our bell cow. He’s the one that likes to throw his body around and everybody rallies around him.”

Ligon played sparingly as a freshman on a team that struggled to a 1-9 record, and he was a starter a year ago as Troup enjoyed a phenomenal turnaround season.

The Tigers won eight straight games at one point and went 8-3 while finishing second in the region behind eventual state-champion Cartersville.

A vastly improved defense helped Troup enjoy a bounce-back season, and Ligon was a big part of that.

While Ligon is listed as an outside linebacker, he also has the speed and ability to play safety, which adds to his value.

“He’s got good instincts. He sees most of the field,” Troup defensive coordinator Tripp Busby said. “He can play outside linebacker, and that’s where we’re putting him this week. Anytime you have a player like that, who has a mind for football and understands the scheme, it’s very valuable.”

Many of Troup’s top defensive players a year ago were sophomores, and those players are all a year older, and a year better now.

Ligon said that experience makes a big difference.

“If you know what you’re doing, you can move faster,” Ligon said. “If you’ve got to think about it, it slows you down.”

Ligon has the speed to chase down even the quickest players on opposing teams, and he has good hands, as he showed a year ago when he intercepted a pass from Cartersville’s Trevor Lawrence.

Ligon also embraces the physical aspect of the game.

“You do what you’ve got to do,” Ligon said. “You can’t play football if you don’t like to hit.”

Ligon will get plenty of opportunities to make some big hits on Friday against a Sandy Creek team that features a straight-forward offense that will look to pound the ball with its power running game.

A year ago, Troup went into Sandy Creek’s stadium and came away with a 28-20 win.

“It’s going to be great out there,” Ligon said. “We’re looking forward to it. They thought we were a fluke last year, so we’ve got to come back and show them that it wasn’t an accident.”

BIG-PLAY CAVALIER: Jacob Freeman was limited playing time a year ago as a freshman, yet the coaches at Oregon saw enough in him to offer him a football scholarship during the summer.

So far this season, Freeman is making that decision by Oregon look like an awfully good one.

In the Cavaliers’ past three games, Freeman has thrown a 60-yard touchdown pass, and he has caught three scoring passes of at least 50 yards.

Freeman is primarily a wide receiver, but he has also lined up at quarterback and made some big plays.

In last week’s 28-27 win over Harris County, Callaway faced a critical fourth-and-two situation in the fourth quarter.

The Cavaliers had a chance to salt the game away with a first down, and offensive coordinator Matt Napier made the decision to put Freeman in at quarterback and let him make a play.

Freeman responded with a first-down run, and Callaway had the win.

Freeman felt that was an opportunity to make up for a mistake he made early when a penalty he committed disallowed a touchdown run by DJ Atkins.

“I messed up and got a little block in the back, so I owed it to my team,” Freeman said.

Also in the Harris County game, Freeman caught a 60-yard touchdown pass from Kedrick Ramsey on the first play from scrimmage.

The previous week against Upson-Lee, Freeman had touchdown catches of 50 and 66 yards, one from Freeman, and the other from Qua Hines on a trick play.

Against Columbus, Freeman showed off his arm strength when he completed a 60-yard touchdown pass to Atkins.

“I’m loving it,” Freeman said of his role. “As long as I’m helping my team win, I don’t have any problem with it.”

STRONG DEBUT: DeAundre Towns made his debut as LaGrange High’s quarterback in last week’s game against Central-Carroll, and he provided the spark the coaches hoped he would.

While LaGrange was unable to get its first win of the season, with Central-Carroll claiming the 32-6 victory, Towns looked comfortable running the team’s Wing T offense.

Towns, who played at Greenville High his first two seasons before transferring to LaGrange, completed 9-of-13 passes for 120 yards with a touchdown.

Towns’ touchdown came in the fourth quarter when he completed a 23-yard pass to running back Andraka Martin.

Charles Crawford, getting his first playing time in a few weeks after suffering a concussion, completed a 22-yard pass to Jordan Ogletree in the second half.

Jordan Ogletree had four catches for 74 yards, and Martin, Myles Johnson and Koby Patton each had one catch.

“Charles, coming off a concussion, we wanted to ease him in slowly,” LaGrange head coach Dialleo Burks said. “He got some work and looked very good. DeAundre, we just wanted him to feel his way. The latter part of the game, he did that. He felt his way.”