Game day for Tigers

Published 3:13 am Friday, November 3, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – They’re in select company.

If the Cartersville Purple Hurricanes beat the Troup Tigers tonight, they would become one of just a handful of teams in the history of the state to win 30 consecutive games.

Cartersville is putting another streak on the line as well.

The Purple Hurricanes have won five consecutive region championships, and they would make it six in a row with a win tonight.

Troup would obviously love to put an end to both streaks, but it is a big-time challenge.

Cartersville hasn’t lost since the state-championship game in 2014, and it has rarely been tested during its 39-game streak.

Cartersville has outscored its five Region 5-AAAA opponents 277-13, and it has scored 35 or more points in every game this season.

Usually, Cartersville’s starters are on the sidelines by the time the second half starts.

Cartersville is led by senior quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who two weeks ago passed Deshaun Watson to become the state’s all-time leader in passing yardage.

Troup has put together a pretty solid resume of its own this season.

Troup had one stumble against Cedartown, but it has won every other game and brings an 8-1 record into today’s showdown.

Troup is 4-1 in the region, so it could win the region championship with a win.

This is the second straight year Troup has played Cartersville for the region championship, which is a testament to how far the program has come in a short time.

In head coach Tanner Glisson’s first season at Troup, the team went 1-9 in 2015.

Over the past two seasons, though, the Tigers are 16-4.

Troup won eight straight games last year before losing to Cartersville.

“We feel like we’ve got a good football team,” Glisson said. “Obviously it’s a big mountain to climb, but it’s good to be in these kind of ballgames, these kinds of situations. A few years ago, we would have died to be in this situation.”

Troup’s defense will be tasked with attempting to do what no one has been able to do for years, and that’s slow down Lawrence and the Cartersville offense.

Last week against Central-Carroll, Glisson and the defensive coaches made some changes to the lineup that paid dividends.

Central was limited to one offensive touchdown, and its potent running game was basically shut down.

One of the changes involved moving junior Joko Willis from linebacker to defensive end, and he had a monster night.

Willis made a tackle for loss on Central-Carroll’s first possession.

“We moved him from linebacker down to defensive end, and he made 10 solo tackles and had four assists,” Glisson said. “I thought that was huge. We were really pleased by that.”

Defensive end King Mwikuta had his usual dominant game, and Detrick Tucker also had a solid game on the defensive line.

“Detrick Tucker played really good. He had seven or eight tackles,” Glisson said. “And really being able to move (Willis) down opposite King was big.”

Another defensive change involved moving the versatile MaCenta Stafford from linebacker to defensive back.

“After that Cedartown game, we moved some people to different spots, and I think that’s what you’ve got to do to try to move it forward and get better,” Glisson said.

Offensively, Troup’s offensive line continued to help pave the way.

The Tigers have scored more than 40 points per game, and the offensive line is a big reason why.

Gabe Hubbard was unable to play against Central because of an injury, but the offensive line continued to get the job done.

“We kind of mixed and matched,” Glisson said.

That group included Seth Adams, Colby Harry, Riley Bowles, Hunter Bass and Michael Irvin.

“They’ve done a really good job,” Glisson said. “They’re not the biggest, but they’ve done a really good job.”

The offense is led by quarterback Montez Crowe, who averages more than 300 yards per game.

Crowe has thrown 33 touchdown passes.

After today’s game, the Tigers will prepare for what they hope will be an extended playoff stay.

Troup can still finish anywhere from first to third in the region, so Glisson won’t know who his team will be playing until after today’s game.

For the moment, Troup’s full attention is on a powerful Cartersville team.

“It ought to be fun, to kind of see where we are,” Glisson said.