Big senior season for Troup’s Crowe

Published 2:10 pm Wednesday, November 1, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – He’s the point man for one of the state’s most dynamic offenses.

The Troup Tigers are averaging more than 40 points per game, and senior quarterback Montez Crowe is a big reason why.

After a stellar junior season that saw him set a host of school passing records, Crowe worked hard in the offseason preparing for what he hoped would be an even more productive senior year.

That plan has come together nicely.

The 6-foot-5 Crowe has been one of the state’s top quarterbacks this season, and he’ll lead his team against top-ranked and unbeaten Cartersville on Friday in a game that will decide the Region 5-AAAA championship.

“After my junior year, I wanted to come back and be better,” Crowe said after throwing four touchdown passes last week against Central-Carroll. “To lead the team, I knew I had to do my best, and get the best out of everyone around me.”

Beginning with week one when he threw for 415 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-28 win over Hardaway, Crowe has been an elite player this season.

He has at least 200 passing yards and two touchdowns in every game this season, and he has thrown for 400 or more yards three times.

That included his memorable performance on Sept. 29 when he threw for 525 yards and eight touchdowns in a 71-16 victory over Sandy Creek.

The man Crowe will share the field with on Friday, Cartersville’s Trevor Lawrence, is considered to be one of the country’s top quarterbacks, and he’s got the numbers to back that up.

Lawrence has passed Deshaun Watson to become the state’s all-time leader in passing yards, and he has led the Purple Hurricanes to back-to-back state titles.

Before the season, Crowe talked about his admiration for Lawrence, and how he was using him as a measuring stick.

“I look at Trevor Lawrence, and that’s the guy I want to be,” Crowe said. “I know he’s not stopping on a daily basis, so I’ve got to keep striving. I just try to get better day by day.”

Crowe started the final game of the 2015 season, and he led Troup to a win over Whitewater.

By the time the 2016 season rolled around, Crowe was ensconced as the starter, and he helped the Tigers average close to 30 points per game.

This season, Crowe, and the entire offense, has taken it to a new level.

Crowe has completed 151-of-229 passes for 2,914 yards (323 yards per game) with 33 touchdowns.

Crowe has all sorts of weapons around him.

Jamari Thrash has excelled in his first season at Troup.

The junior has 424 catches for 929 yards with 12 touchdowns, and he has at least one scoring reception in all but one game.

Sophomore Kobe Hudson, Troup’s top returning wide receiver, has 19 catches for 644 yards, and he has 12 touchdowns.

Ja’Rell Smith has 18 catches for 281yards with three touchdowns, and Mark-Anthony Dixon has 15 catches for 424 yards with three touchdowns.

Dixon has the longest pass play of the season, a 95-yard  touchdown catch against Kendrick.

Another favorite target of Crowe’s is senior tight end Kenly Bridwell, who has 22 catches for 376 yards with two touchdowns.

Tyree Carlisle has 16 catches with a touchdown, and fellow running back Trey Williams has nine catches.

Among that group, Hudson has received the most attention among college scouts, and he showed why against Central-Carroll.

On back-to-back plays, he snapped a pass out of the air for a long completion before making an 18-yard touchdown catch on a fade pass in the end zone.

“Kobe’s a D-I athlete. He can make plays,” Crowe said. “Then coming off that, we’ve got three or four others that can make plays, and are fast. Then you’ve got players out of the backfield like Jackson (Davis) and Carlisle. We’ve just got a good team all over. Our players are spread out all over the offense. That’s what makes us so good.”

Everything Troup’s offense can be came to fruition in the Sandy Creek game. Crowe completed 20-of-29 passes for 525 yards with eight touchdowns, and he threw scoring passes to five different players.

Hudson had six catches for 239 yards and four touchdowns, and Thrash, Smith, Bridwell and Dixon each had one scoring reception.

Crowe had 400-yard passing games against Hardaway and Lamar County, and he surpassed 300 yard against Chapel Hill.

Even in Troup’s lone loss to Cedartown, Crowe threw for 256 yards with three touchdowns.

It’s a fast-paced offense that asks so much from the quarterback, and Crowe is clearly up to the challenge.

Crowe gives a lot of credit to an offensive line that has thrived.

“Communication’s a big key in our offense, because we’re trying to go so fast,” Crowe said. “And the offensive line, they don’t get a whole lot of praise like they should. If we get our communication right, it’s just like seven-on-seven. I’ve got to give all the credit to the O-line.”

Whatever happens on Friday against Cartersville, Troup will have more football to play.

Troup will finish anywhere from first to third in the region, so it will be in the state playoffs.

If Troup upsets Cartersville, it would finish tied for first in the region.

A year ago, Troup went to Cartersville with a chance to win the region championship and it lost 68-0.

This is a more veteran team, and Crowe said he and his teammates are trying to keep things in perspective.

“I think we all learned from last year, coming out so eager,” Crowe said. “This year, we all know we’ve got to just come out and play football. We just have to execute, and the scoreboard will take care of yourself.”