Preseason practice gets started

Published 4:29 pm Wednesday, July 25, 2018


Daily News

It’s go time.

High-school football teams in Georgia will make the transition from their summer programs to preseason practice today.

The Callaway Cavaliers, LaGrange Grangers and Troup Tigers will all be on the field today for the first official day of practice according to the Georgia High School Association calendar.

After a week conditioning, teams can begin holding full-contract practices on Aug. 1.

Not long after that, it’ll be time to play football.

Callaway, LaGrange and Troup will all play preseason games on Aug. 10, and the regular season begins the following week.

At Troup, Tanner Glisson returns for his fourth season as head coach, and expectations are high.

Troup went 9-3 and reached the second round of the state playoffs last season, and most of the key players from that team return.

The program has come a long way from Glisson’s first season in 2015 when Troup struggled through a one-win season.

The Tigers went 8-3 last season and finished second in Region 5-AAAA, and they took the next step and won a playoff game last year.

“Expectations are real high across the state,” Glisson said. “People are thinking about Troup. (An interviewer) asked me what do I think the biggest challenge is, and it’s probably that, the outside expectations. It can be good, and be bad. But the expectations are no higher than what we put on ourselves.”

Troup does have to replace all-state quarterback Montez Crowe, who had one of the best seasons in the history of the state, but nearly everyone else is back.

“I think they’re very confident,” Glisson said. “They’ve been to enough 11-on-11, and seven-on-sevens. They’ve seen what’s around them. They know they’re as good as anybody around them, when they play well.”

Troup has a preseason game against Northside-Columbus on Aug. 10 before opening the regular season on Aug. 24 at Ridgeland.

At Callaway, Pete Wiggins returns for his 14th season as head coach, and the program has thrived under his leadership.

Over the past 10 years, the Cavaliers have a 98-27 record, they’ve won numerous region titles, and they’ve made it to at least the second round of the state playoffs all but once. Four times during that span Callaway reached the state quarterfinals, and it made it to the semifinals in 2013 and 2016.

For the most successful programs in the state, it’s not just about what happens during the season.

It is a year-around commitment for those elite programs, and Callaway is no exception.

“It always starts in the offseason,” said Wiggins, who has a 115-42 record in his 14 seasons as head coach. “The kids work really hard. It’s a really good group. In the weight room they’ve had great commitment, coming to school after school each day. I’ve been really proud of their attendance in the offseason. It all starts with being here, and this group has done a great job with being here working after school, and once we got into spring ball, and this summer with our camps.”

Callaway will be at Starr’s Mill for a preseason game on Aug. 10, and it begins the regular season on Aug. 24 against Opelika.

At LaGrange, Chuck Gibbs has taken over as head coach following the departure of Dialleo Burks.

Gibbs worked with the team during spring practice, and he has continued to get to know the players during the summer.

Gibbs’ mission is to begin to turn things around for a proud program that has struggled in recent years.

The 2017 season was a particularly difficult one, with LaGrange going winless.

Gibbs’ message to every player on the roster is that “it’s a team sport.”

“All three phases better complement each other,” he said. “You have to have one team with one heartbeat and one mission, and that’s to get out of Friday night with as little injuries as possible, and hopefully a W. We’re going to use every facet we can to give ourselves a chance.”

Gibbs liked what he saw in the spring game against Manchester.

In the first half when the starters were on the field, LaGrange scored two touchdowns, and the defense shut out Manchester.

“We’ll see some three-and-outs, and we’re hoping the offense can complement the defense, and control the ball, and move the ball and get first downs,” Gibbs said. “Hopefully we can throw the ball effectively, and run the ball efficiently enough to be able to eat up the clock and limit an opponent to five or six possessions in a game and create some turnovers.”

LaGrange plays Kendrick in a preseason game on Aug. 10, and its regular-season opener is on Aug. 17 at home against Heard County.