County rivals meeting once again

Published 12:01 am Friday, October 13, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – Nearly 50 years ago, they met on the gridiron for the first time.

With more than 6,000 fans packed into Callaway Stadium, it was the LaGrange Grangers beating the Troup Tigers 35-6 on a November night in 1968, jump-starting a rivalry that is almost a half a century old.

Tonight, the Grangers and Tigers will resume their long-standing rivalry, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. at Callaway Stadium.

It’s a game that features teams that have gone in different directions this season.

While LaGrange (0-6) is still looking for its first win of the season, Troup (6-0) is riding high, putting together one of the best starts in school history.

LaGrange lost to Cartersville 56-0 last week, while Troup hasn’t played since beating Sandy Creek 71-16 on Sept. 29.

For Troup, the game offers an opportunity to remain unbeaten and move a step closer toward a region-championship showdown with Cartersville on the final night of the regular season.

For LaGrange, tonight is a chance to create some positive memories from what has been a difficult season.

LaGrange head coach Dialleo Burks has been proud of the way his players have persevered this season, and he has no doubt they’ll be ready to give it their all tonight.

“It’s Troup,” Burks said. “It’s a totally different mentality. They’ll be ready.”

Troup was off last week, and head coach Tanner Glisson said the players are eager to get back on the field.

“I think they’re ready to play,” Glisson said. “They sign up to play football, so they want to play as many games as possible. So we’ll be excited about getting back on that field on Friday night. We had a week to kind of get our bearing straight, and look at things going forward.”

The Tigers have a lot to play for.

Troup (2-0) is one of two unbeaten teams in the region along with Cartersville (3-0), so it has put itself in position to compete for a region championship.

Before Troup plays Cartersville, though, it has three games to play, beginning with today’s showdown with LaGrange.

The Grangers have struggled, but Glisson said it’s a team that is still giving maximum effort and is getting better, even if the results haven’t been there.

Glisson was in a similar position two years ago in his first season as Troup’s head coach.

In 2015, Troup lost its first nine games before winning its season finale against Whitewater.

“I can remember that first year we were here, the 1-9 year, me trying to tell you guys in the media more than anybody that about the midway point we were playing better,” Glisson said. “But it was hard to see, because we were playing Woodward Academy, and Sandy Creek. And that’s kind of what LaGrange is going through. I think they’re playing a little bit better, but it’s hard to tell because they’re playing Cartersville. So we kind of hit our stride when we went over and almost beat Fayette County, and then beat Whitewater pretty soundly. So I can see some similarities in both.”

Glisson said from what he can see, the players are still giving it their all for Burks.

“Hats off to them,” Glisson said. “You can tell when a coach has lost his football team, and (Burks) hasn’t lost them. They’re playing hard, and they’re still hustling and doing the things he’s asking them to do from an effort stand-point.”

The schedule has done the Grangers no favors this season.

Outside of Central-Carroll, every team LaGrange has played has a winning record, and that includes Callaway, which is ranked second in Class AA, and Cartersville, which has won 37 straight games.

The good news for the Grangers is that most of the players who are contributing this season still have one, two, or even three seasons of high-school football remaining.

Burks’ hope is that what the Grangers are going through this season will help strengthen the resolve of the players moving forward, both on the field and off.

“That’s what we want to build is character in these guys, so when they go off and leave us, they’ll be able to stand,” Burks said. “They’re enduring a lot right now, but it’s not going to rain forever.”

Challenges don’t come much tougher than last week’s.

Cartersville has been running rough-shod over opponents for more than two years now, and it put on a clinic against LaGrange.

While Trevor Lawrence and the Cartersville offense scored seven touchdowns on eight possessions in the first half, LaGrange was unable to get anything going when it had the ball.

Sophomore wide receiver Jordan Ogletree was a bright spot for LaGrange with three catches for 27 yards, including a 19-yard reception.

Charles Crawford played most of the game at quarterback and completed all three passes to Ogletree.

LaGrange’s ground game, which has been a strong suit at times, was stymied by Cartersville, with no one running for more than five yards.

Defensively, Vondez Taylor had six tackles, while Daz Williams had five tackles, including one for loss.

Lequincy Shepard and Dexter Fitzpatrick each had five tackles, while Taj Hixson had three tackles, with one for loss.

LaGrange’s biggest play came in special teams, with Logan Karcher returning a kickoff 50 yards in the second half, and Koby Patton had a 20-yard punt return.

“You just have to come back and go to work, because we’ve got another big one next week with Troup,” Burks said following the Cartersville game. “It’s a high-tempo team that can put points on the board.”

Troup has been turning heads in the state because of its ability to seemingly score at will.

The Tigers are averaging 47 points per game, and they get it done with an explosive passing game led by quarterback Montez Crowe.

Crowe, a senior, has completed 102-of-152 passes for 2,205 yards with 24 touchdowns, and he’s averaging 367 yards per game.

No quarterback in the state, including Lawrence, has thrown for more yards than Crowe.

Jamari Thrash is Troup’s leading receiver with 26 catches for 250 yards, and he has seven touchdowns.

Kobe Hudson has 16 catches for 458 yards with a team-best nine touchdowns.

Tight end Kenly Bridwell has 16 catches for 255 yards with two touchdowns, Ja’Rell Smith has 15 receptions for two touchdowns, and Mark-Anthony Dixon has caught 14 balls for 390 yards with three touchdowns.

Paving the way is an offensive line that includes Hunter Bass, Colby Harry, Jay Brodie Messer, Seth Adams, Gabe Hubbard and Michael Irvin.

While the offense has been getting a lot of the attention, the defense has thrived as well.

Since allowing 28 points in the season opener against Hardaway, Troup has given up just 52 points in the past five games.

It’s a defense that figures to only get better since nearly every player on that side of the ball is an underclassmen.

“We can always get better,” said linebacker Macenta Stafford, one of the few senior starters. “We’re still not where we want to be. We’ve still got more and more to achieve.”

If Troup wins tonight, it would be the second best start in the history of the program, matching the 1978 team that was 7-0.

The 1972 team won its first eight games, and that’s the best start in school history.

If Troup wins today, it would have a chance to move to 8-0 with a win over Central-Carroll on Oct. 27.

That will be Troup’s homecoming.

“We’ve been making history, and we’d like to keep trying to do that if possible,” Glisson said.


1968 – LaGrange won 35-6

1969 – LaGrange won 14-6

1972 – Troup won 33-13

1973 – LaGrange won 31-7

1992 – Troup won 7-0

1993 – LaGrange won 13-1

1994 – LaGrange won 19-16

1995 – LaGrange won 46-13

1996 – LaGrange won 52-6

1997 – LaGrange won 35-15

1998 – LaGrange won 27-18

1999 – Troup won 1207

2000 – LaGrange won 42-28

2001 – LaGrange won 21-16

2002 – LaGrange won 24-0

2003 – Troup won 24-21

2004 – LaGrange won 31-6

2005 – LaGrange won 28-14

2006 – LaGrange won 37-18

2007 – LaGrange won 24-20

2008 – LaGrange won 17-14

2009 – LaGrange won 42-0

2010 – Troup won 34-27

2011 – Troup won 27-14

2012 – LaGrange won 35-20

2013 – Troup won 27-8

2014 – Truop won 36-15

2015 – LaGrange won 35-7

2016 – Troup won 37-26