Critical test for Tigers

Published 2:11 pm Thursday, October 19, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – It’s a high-stakes showdown.

When the Troup Tigers visit the Cedartown Bulldogs on Friday night, there will be no shortage of motivating factors.

First and most importantly, a win means Troup would finish no lower than second in Region 5-AAAA, so it would host a state-playoff game for the second straight year.

A win would also keep the Tigers unbeaten, and with an 8-0 record they would match the 1972 team for the best start in school history.

A victory also sets up a showdown with Cartersville on Nov. 3 for the region championship, and there’s a chance both teams could bring 9-0 records into that game.

“You’ve got home playoff games on the line, and it also sets the stage for Nov. 3 with a region-championship game for the second year in a row,” said Tanner Glisson, Troup’s third-year head coach. “And we can actually tie the Troup record for the best start. So there are a lot of things to fight for, and to play for.”

Cedartown would obviously love to spoil Troup’s plans, and it has a team that could possibly make that happen.

Cedartown is 6-1, and its only loss of the season came to Cartersville, which has won 37 consecutive games.

A year ago, Cedartown hung tough with Troup at Callaway Stadium before losing 23-20.

It appeared Cedartown had won that game on a last-second touchdown pass, but the officials ruled that the receiver didn’t catch the ball inbounds, although it appeared as though he did get a foot down.

“They’re a really good football team,” Glisson said. “They had a chance to beat us last year at our place, and they feel like we probably stole it from them a little bit. So we’ve got to go and play good.”

It’s a Cedartown team with an explosive offense led by veteran quarterback Trevon Wofford, who has been terrific this season.

The 6-foot-5 Wofford has been starting for three seasons, and he has developed into an elite player whether he’s throwing the ball, or running.

In a 35-14 win over Central-Carroll, Wofford threw for 169 yards with three touchdowns, and he also had two scoring runs.

The previous week against LaGrange, Wofford completed 10-of-12 passes for 116 yards with a touchdown.

Tony Mathis headlines Cedartown’s running attack, and he’s also a threat catching balls out of the backfield.

Cedartown is averaging 37 points per game, and it has scored at least 34 points in all but one game.

“It’s by far the best team we’ve played this year,” Glisson said. “It’s not even close, really. They’ve got really good players.”

The same goes for Troup, which remained unbeaten with a 38-0 win over LaGrange.

The Tigers are one of the state’s highest-scoring teams at nearly 46 points per game.

No one in the state has thrown for more yards than quarterback Montez Crowe, who is having a brilliant senior season.

Crowe has completed 117-of-177 passes for 2,410 yards and he has thrown 26 touchdowns, and he averages 344 yards per game.

Crowe’s favorite target is Jamari Thrash, who has caught 28 passes for 681 yards with eight touchdowns.

Kobe Hudson has 19 catches for 488 yards, and he leads the team with 10 touchdowns, and he also returned an interception for a score against LaGrange.

Tight end Kenly Bridwell has 21 catches for 356 yards with two touchdowns, Mark-Anthony Dixon has 15 receptions for 421 yards with three touchdowns, and Ja’Rell Smith has 15 catches for 258 yards with two touchdowns.

Running back Tyree Carlisle has 14 catches with a touchdown.

While the passing game is Troup’s forte, the team has been effective on the ground as well.

Carlisle leads the team with 256 yards on 49 carries with six touchdowns, and Trey Williams has 141 yards on 25 attempts with three touchdowns.

Jackson Davis, who was battling a thigh injury earlier this season, has returned and he ran for 63 yards against LaGrange with a touchdown.

The defense has been terrific as well, giving up a total of 80 points in seven games, and 28 of those points came in the season opener against Hardaway.

In the win over LaGrange, Hudson had seven tackles from his defensive-back position with the interception.

Troup’s defense didn’t allow a point in a game for the first time this season, although Glisson felt the effort could have been better, especially in the first half.

“I felt like Joshua Boehm played good up front, and Khaliq Thornton played well up front,” Glisson said. “I felt like the interior of our line played well. Everybody us played OK.”

Carson Wreyford made a 35-yard field goal against LaGrange, and he and Cal Foster were perfect on extra points.

For the first time since the opener against Hardaway, Troup found itself in a competitive game at the half.

“In a way, it worked out for everybody,” Glisson said. “Their guys played really hard, and they’ve got to feel good about how they played, especially in the first half. We needed a close ballgame. We hadn’t had a close game at the half since Hardaway.”

Everything has come together for the Tigers, who have come a long way from the 2015 season when they went 1-9.

Since dropping the opener to Hardaway last year, Troup has won 15 of its past 16 regular-season games, and it is two wins from becoming the first football team in school history to start 9-0.

“We’ve worked extremely hard, and now’s the time when you dot your i’s an cross your t’s and tighten the screws,” Glisson said. “So we feel like we’re in a good position, and we’ve worked really hard to put ourselves in this position. We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing, and keep doing it at an even higher level.”