Troup offense flying high
Published 10:37 pm Monday, September 10, 2018
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
He found an extra gear.
The Troup Tigers were already up big when they lined up to take the opening kickoff in the second half of last week’s game against Harris County.
Ja’Rell Smith, one of the many play-makers on Troup’s team, gathered up the ball around the 20-yard line, and he out-raced everybody to the end zone for the touchdown.
That was part of a big day for Smith, a junior wide receiver who helped Troup beat Harris County 53-6 to improve to 3-0 heading into Friday’s showdown against the Callaway Cavaliers.
In addition to the kickoff return, Smith also had a 55-yard touchdown catch from Kobe Hudson in the first half.
On both touchdowns, Smith showed off his speed.
In the first half, Smith beat his defender down the left sideline, and Hudson hit him in stride for the touchdown.
Then to start the second half, Smith gave Troup its first kickoff return for a touchdown this season.
“I was impressed by the speed he showed going down the sidelines,” Troup head coach Tanner Glisson said. “He’s so quick. I haven’t seen him run that fast in a while. He ran track this year, and I know he got a lot faster. He turned on the jets.”
Smith is part of a dynamic group of wide receivers for the Tigers.
Leading the way is senior Jamari Thrash, who has 10 catches for 317 yards with three touchdowns.
Thrash has scoring catches in every game this season, and he has 21 touchdowns in his past 15 games.
Trea Mitchell has enjoyed a breakout sophomore season with six catches for 161 yards and two touchdowns, and Mark-Anthony Dixon has nine receptions for 147 yards with two touchdowns.
Next is Smith with six catches for 140 yards and a touchdown, and Joko Willis has eight receptions for 135 yards with a touchdown.
Running back Tyree Carlisle has caught four passes for 117 yards with a 63-yard touchdown, and tight end Luke Purnell has three catches for 44 yards with a touchdown.
Thrash, Dixon, Smith and Purnell each had touchdown catches against Harris County.
The man pulling the trigger is junior quarterback Kobe Hudson, who has completed 42-of-68 passes for 894 yards with nine touchdowns.
Hudson has also run for 184 yards on 18 attempts with four touchdowns.
A number of Troup players got involved against Harris County, and that’s been a staple of Troup’s attack under offensive coordinator Kelby Holt.
“It was good to see,” Glisson said. “A lot of people got touches. We’ve got so many weapons, so many play-makers, and it’s nice to spread the ball around.”
One of those play-makers is Dixon, who is one of the state’s top sprinters as evidenced by his top-five finishes in the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints at the state track meet.
Dixon caught a 31-yard touchdown pass against Harris County.
“We have a lot of good skill guys,” Dixon said. “When you have that many, you’re able to sub them in and sub them out. Our offense is best when it gives the ball to everybody, not just to one person.”
ALL-STAR SUBS: Following a physical and hard-fought game against LaGrange, Callaway quarterback Jacob Freeman and running back Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby didn’t play against Cross Keys last week.
Freeman had to leave the LaGrange game after taking a big hit in the fourth quarter, and while he was later given a clean bill of health, the coaches felt it was prudent to sit him out against an over-matched Cross Keys team.
Bigsby, meanwhile, had more than 40 combined carries against Opelika and LaGrange, and the decision was made to rest him as well.
In their absence, quarterback Demetrius Coleman was called upon to play quarterback, and Qua Hines, Charlie Dixon and Antinius Barnes filled in at running back.
Each of those players found the end zone in the 50-0 road win.
Hines, a starter on defense, got the scoring started with a 42-yard touchdown run.
Later in the first quarter, Coleman scored on a 22-yard keeper, and Dixon showed off his big-play ability with a 75-yard scoring run.
In the second half, Barnes scored on a 30-yard run to cap the scoring.
Fullback Jabari Smith got into the act as well with a 4-yard touchdown run.
Freeman and Bigsby will be rested and ready go on Friday against Troup.
Bigsby got his season off to an explosive start with 249 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-21 victory over Opelika, and he had 108 yards on 19 carries against LaGrange.
Freeman had a hand in both of Callaway’s touchdowns in the 14-0 win over LaGrange.
Freeman threw a touchdown pass to Antinez Blount, and he also had a scoring run.
Freeman ran for 45 yards on seven carries against LaGrange, and he completed 5-of-9 passes for 61 yards.
In the Opelika game, Freeman had 125 yards on 10 attempts with a touchdown.
He completed 4-of-7 passes for 71 yards.
GROUND ATTACK: In their first two games of the season, the LaGrange Grangers had a difficult time getting their running game in gear.
LaGrange was limited to 48 yards in a 10-3 loss to Heard County, and it was held to 94 yards in a 14-0 setback against Callaway.
In last week’s break-through win against Hampton that snapped a 17-game losing streak, LaGrange was able to get its ground game going.
The Grangers finished with 229 yards on 38 carries, good for an average of six yards per rushing attempt.
Senior Laracco Glaze, who has been the Grangers’ leading rusher in every game so far, had 77 yards on 11 attempts with a 1-yard touchdown run.
Kale Gibbs got his first carries as a Granger, and he was effective, running for 53 yards on six carries.
Andre Canty, who only had one carry in the first two games, had 36 yards on nine attempts against Hampton.
Quarterback Charles Crawford had four scrambles for 34 yards, and Myles Johnson ran the ball five times for 18 yards.
Glaze had LaGrange’s lone touchdown, and it was set up by a 46-yard punt return to the 1-yard line.
Glaze is LaGrange’s leading runner on the season with 155 yards on 35 carries.
While the Grangers ran the ball successfully last week, they didn’t get a whole lot done in the passing game, although Crawford did hit on two passes of 30 yards or longer.
Crawford was 4-of-13 passes for 83 yards, and he had completions of 35 and 30 yards to Canty and Jordan Ogletree, respectively.
Koby Patton (13 yards) and Mikal Younkins (five yards) also caught passes from Crawford.