Troup defense standing tall

Published 1:16 pm Friday, November 10, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – What the Troup Tigers have done on offense has been well-documented.

For much of the season, Troup’s Montez Crowe was the state’s leading passer, and the team heads into the playoffs averaging nearly 40 points per game.

The Tigers aren’t a one-trick pony, though.

Troup has also found its defensive footing as the season has gone along, and that’s a confident unit heading into the state playoffs.

“I’ve been thinking for a while now that our defense has been hitting its stride,” said Troup head coach Tanner Glisson. “If we can take another step this week, and keep stepping forward, we can actually have a pretty good defense before this thing is over.”

When Troup lost to Cedartown 21-18, Glisson and the other defensive coaches decided to make some changes in the lineup.

While the Bulldogs had their second-lowest point total of the season, they dominated the time of possession, keeping Troup’s high-powered offense off the field.

Troup followed that up with a dominant 35-14 win over Central-Carroll, and even in the 52-13 loss to Cartersville, the defense did a lot of good things.

Cartersville quarterback Trevor Lawrence had his worst day of the season with season lows in yards, completion percentage and touchdowns.

“It looks like they’re moving around better, and a lot of that I think is understanding the scheme,” Glisson said.

One of the players who was moved after the Cedartown game is Joko Willis, who was shifted from linebacker to defensive end.

Willis leads Troup with 97 total tackles, including 69 solo stops, and he has five sacks and three forced fumbles.

Senior linebacker Kevin Martin has 76 tackles with a pair of sacks, and linebacker Jatavian Smith has 64 tackles.

Among the outside linebackers, Detrick Tucker leads the way with 54 tackles.

Nick Ligon, who has missed significant time with injuries, has 30 tackles, and Devin Hill has 29 tackles.

On the defensive line, King Mwikuta has been a force all season, and he has 42 tackles with a team-leading seven sacks.

Andy Boykin has 30 tackles, and Kaliff Thornton, Joshua Boehm, Tionne Battle and Jabralin Gooden are all in double digits in tackles.

One of Troup’s most consistent defensive players is MaCenta Stafford, who has shifted between linebacker and defensive back.

Stafford is a veteran on the defense, and he said earlier this season that the players on that side of the ball are always striving to improve.

“We can always get better,” Stafford said. “We’re still not where we want to be. We’ve still got more and more to achieve.”

Stafford has 53 tackles, including 37 solo stops, and he has the speed and ability to take on the challenge of covering elite receivers one-on-one.

Alonzo Ogletree has 22 tackles, Manderious Dix has 20 tackles, and Kobe Hudson and Zy Varner have 14 and 13 tackles, respectively.

SELECT COMPANY: Heading into the state playoffs, only two quarterbacks in the state, regardless of classification, have thrown for more yards than Troup’s Montez Crowe according to

Austin Parker of East Hall is the state’s leading passer with 3,563 yards, and he’s also tops with 38 touchdowns.

Next is Caleb Pruitt of Heritage-Conyers with 3,244 yards, and he has 30 touchdowns.

Coming in close behind is Crowe, who has thrown for 3,215 yards with 35 touchdowns, and he’s third in the state in both categories.

Crowe is among the state’s leaders with 15 interceptions, but that’s the cost of doing business on an offense that is so reliant on the pass.

Crowe threw four of those interceptions last week against Cartersville, but head coach Tanner Glisson said he’s happy to roll onto the field with his senior quarterback.

“He has 3,300 yards and 35 touchdowns,” Glisson said. “Let’s go with him. He can be in a foxhole with me anytime.”

RUNNING STRONG: While the Tigers are known for their prolific passing game, they’ve been effective on the ground as well.

Tyree Carlisle leads the way for the Cavaliers with 70 carries for 385 yards with six touchdowns.

Trey Williams has 240 yards on 38 attempts.

Troup’s third-leading rusher is quarterback Montez Crowe, who has 180 yards, and Jackson Davis has 26 attempts for 126 yards.