Unbeaten Troup ready for Cedartown
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The Troup Tigers were flying high heading into last year’s showdown with the Cedartown Bulldogs.
Troup was 7-0, and it hadn’t just been beating teams, it had been bludgeoning them into submission.
Troup met its match on that October night, though, with Cedartown dominating the time of possession on the way to a 21-18 victory.
Troup is hoping for a better result this year.
Troup, which is once again rolling along with a 7-0 record after beating LaGrange 35-14 last week, will host Cedartown on Friday night in a critical Region 5-AAAA game.
If the Tigers win, they’ll finish no lower than second in the region, meaning they’ll be at home for the first round of the state playoffs.
A win over Cedartown would also set up a region-championship showdown at Cartersville on Nov. 2.
“This is a huge one,” Troup head coach Tanner Glisson said. “I’m very concerned about this one. There are so many things. You’re coming off a rivalry game, it’s senior night for us, we were out of school Monday and Tuesday. And they’re a good football team. They lost to Cartersville by one, lost to Rockmart and Bremen, two teams that could be sitting in the semifinals in Class AA, by two or three points apiece. They’ve lost three games by like a combined six points. Everything sets up for it to be a tremendous trap-game type scenario. But they are well beyond being a trap team.”
Many of the players who helped Cedartown upend Troup a year ago are back, including running back Tony Mathis, who has committed to West Virginia.
Kobe Pryor and Rashad Walker are also gifted runners, and quarterback Taji Hudson has been getting it done.
In Cedartown’s most recent game, a 48-17 victory over Central-Carroll, Pryor and Mathis combined for 236 rushing yards, and Hudson completed 6-of-8 passes for 98 yards.
“This is a team that went to the second round last year and was 10-2. So these guys are good,” Glisson said. “The running back (Mathis) is such a hard runner. He’s hard to bring down. So we’re just going to have to play really well, and let it all hang out. It’s going to be really tough. We just have to be ready to play.”
Cedartown’s challenge will be trying to contain a Troup offense that is one of the best in the state.
The Tigers average more than 500 yards per game and lead the state in that category, and they score 42 points a game.
The Tigers had close to 500 yards of offense last week against the Grangers, but they also turned the ball over a season-high four times with three interceptions and a fumble.
Still, Troup continued to move the ball at will.
Junior quarterback Kobe Hudson completed 22-of-31 passes for 340 yards with a touchdown, and he also ran for 59 yards on 12 attempts with a touchdown.
Hudson’s favorite target was Joko Willis, who had nine catches for 153 yards.
Trea Mitchell had four receptions for 38 yards with a touchdown, and Ja’Rell Smith caught four passes for 42 yards.
Running Trey Williams had three catches for 56 yards out of the backfield, and Jamari Thrash had two receptions for 49 yards.
Williams ran for 53 yards on 14 attempts, and he also returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown.
Tyree Carlisle added 19 rushing yards owith a touchdown.
Troup’s defense gave up a pair of touchdowns, but it was another solid showing for a unit that has been superb all season.
Before Friday’s game, Troup’s seniors will be recognized, and that’s a special group for Glisson.
Many of the current seniors were rising freshmen at Troup when Glisson became the head coach before the 2015 season.
Glisson would love for those seniors to get to play at least one more game at Callaway Stadium after Friday.
“What we’re fighting for, and I feel a lot of this responsibility, is to give them the best chance on Friday so we’ll get another game at Callaway Stadium,” Glisson said. “You win Friday, you’re guaranteed a game in the first round. That’s the goal.”
TROUP VS. CEDARTOWN
WHEN: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Callaway Stadium
RECORDS: Troup (7-0 overall, 3-0 in Region 5-AAAA); Cedartown (4-3 overall, 2-1 in Region 5-AAAA)