Troup has come a long way
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
They’ve come a long way.
In the fifth game of the 2015 season, the Troup Tigers played the Callaway Cavaliers, and they hung tough for a while before losing 42-24.
That was part of a difficult fall for Troup, which dropped its first nine games before beating Whitewater in the season finale.
Flash forward three years, and Troup and Callaway are preparing to meet once again, and the football landscape is a bit different this time around.
Callaway, just as it was in 2015, is an elite team with hopes of competing for a state championship.
While it’s the status quo for Callaway, things have changed in a big way for Troup.
The turnaround for the Tigers began in 2016 when they went 8-3 and finished second in Region 5-AAAA.
Last season, Troup took it a step further, going 9-3 while getting a playoff road win over Heritage before losing a close one to St. Piux X.
This season, the Tigers are off to a 3-0 start, and they’re ranked as high as sixth in one of the state polls.
The architect of the program’s turnaround is Tanner Glisson, who took over as head coach before the 2015 season.
With the help of a committed group of coaches, as well as a roster full of players willing to put in the work, the Tigers have become a legitimate state-championship contender in Class AAAA.
“We’ve been really blessed to come a long way in a short period of time,” Glisson said. “And if we could have sat back in 2015 and said where do you want to be in 2018, in week three going into week four, it’s been really a storybook deal. It’s been a lot of hard work, and God’s really blessed us, and coaching continuity has helped. So we’re just excited to be in this position, and we’re still taking it one day at a time, one week at a time. You try not to get too far ahead of yourself. There can be injuries, and kids being kids, but it’s been good.”
With most of the starters and key players returning from last year’s team, expectations were high for the Tigers coming into the season.
So far, the Tigers have lived up to those expectations.
In the season opener, Troup went on the road and beat Ridgeland 32-0, and it followed that up with a 47-14 home win over Columbus.
Last week, Troup led 40-6 at the half on the way to a 53-6 road win over Harris County.
Now, Troup will see how it stacks up against a Callaway team that is also 3-0 and is ranked second in Class AA.
“It’s great for the community. It’s great for the kids,” Glisson said. “And it’s great for us to kind of let us know really where are we going into the region. We’ve played a pretty solid schedule, but with this, we’ll really have a great idea where we are going in.”
The Tigers feature a versatile, explosive offense that has scored at will this season.
Junior quarterback Kobe Hudson has thrown for 894 yards with nine touchdowns, and he has also run for 184 yards with four touchdowns.
Hudson is surrounded by a gifted group of wide receivers that includes Jamari Thrash, Mark-Anthony Dixon, Ja’Rell Smith and Trea Mitchell.
Those four players have combined for eight touchdown catches.
The Tigers have also been getting it done on the ground, with Trey Williams and Tyree Carlisle combining for 364 yards and six touchdowns.
Leading the way is a senior-laden offensive line that has been doing a terrific job.
Troup’s defense has been dominant as well.
Troup’s first-team defense, including a preseason game against Northside-Columbus, has given up six points in four games.
That defense will be put to the test against a Callaway offense led by junior running back Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby, who had a 249-yard effort in the opener against Opelika. Quarterback Jacob Freeman has been terrific, and Callaway’s offensive line boasts three players being recruited by SEC schools.
“They’ve got a huge offensive line that can run the ball, and pass protect,” Glisson said. “They have a five-star running back. They’ve got a four-star athlete at quarterback. So there’s nothing that they do not have offensively.”
Glisson added that “athletically, they’re as good as we’re going to see.”
Whatever happens on Friday, the rest of the season is full of promise for the Tigers, and they appear to have what it takes to make a deep playoff run.
One thing Glisson won’t do is look too far ahead, though.
His focus is on making the most of every day, which is a philosophy he applies to all walks of life.
“I think that’s how I approach my life every day,” Glisson said. “God gives you today, so it’s about what we do with each and every day. That’s kind of how we approach, and that’s kind of what got us to this point, living one day at a time. If you put a lot of those days together, usually good things happen. When you start back-sliding in that philosophy, that’s when you start having issues. So, it’s one day at a time. We give maximum effort every day, and thank the Lord that he’s provided us with good health to continue to do it.”