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Troup hopes to stay unbeaten

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

The Troup Tigers know they’re going to play for the Region 5-AAAA championship next week against Cartersville.

The only question is whether they’ll still be unbeaten when that game happens.

If Troup gets a road win over Central-Carroll today, it would set up a showdown between two 9-0 teams next week.

“I know Cartersville is the elephant in the room,” Troup head coach Tanner Glisson said. “Everybody wants to talk about that. But first things first. Central is very well-coached. Coach (Darius) Smiley is a buddy of mine, and those guys do a tremendous job.”

It’s an important game for Central-Carroll (2-6 overall), which is 1-3 in the region and likely needs a win over Troup to stay in the chase for one of the region’s four state-playoff bids.

Central-Carroll is primarily a running team, with some talented backs getting it done behind a formidable offensive line.

The Lions have run for more than 1,400 yards in eight games, and they average 4.2 yards per carry.

Junior Braden Dunson leads Central’s rushing attack with 342 yards and seven touchdowns.

“Their offensive line is really, really good,” Glisson said. “They can really get after you, and scheme-wise they’re really, really good.”

Central’s challenge will be to slow a Troup offense that is among the best in the state.

The Tigers are averaging 500 yards per game, which puts them among the state leaders in that category, and they score 39 points a game.

It all starts with junior Kobe Hudson, who has had a remarkable debut season as Troup’s quarterback.

Hudson has completed 117-of-183 passes for 2,176 yards with 22 touchdowns, and he has also run for 724 yards on 76 carries with 11 touchdowns.

Hudson is surrounded by play-makers, including senior wide receiver Joko Willis, who has a team-leading 27 catches for 517 yards with five touchdowns.

Senior Jamari Thrash has 23 receptions for 437 yards with a team-best eight touchdowns, and junior Ja’Rell Smith has 20 catches for 437 yards with three touchdowns. Trea Mitchell has 15 catches for 256 yards with two touchdowns, and Mark-Anthony Dixon has 12 receptions for 176 yards with three touchdowns.

Senior running back Tyree Carlisle has been a receiving threat out of the backfield with 10 catches for 159 yards and a touchdown, and fellow running back Trey Williams has eight catches for 105 yards.

Throw in a veteran and talented group of offensive linemen, and finding ways to slow down Troup’s offense is a daunting task for opposing defenses.

“I know what it’s like because I have my hand in the defense as much as I do,” Glisson said. “We go against it every day. And so it’s not fun. And when that think is clicking, and when (Hudson is) spreading it around, it’s really dangerous.”

Troup’s defense has been up to the challenge as well, limiting opposing teams to 14 points per game.

“I think that has kind of flipped the script for us and has given us a chance to better than we were last year,” Glisson said. “King Mwikuta, Andy Boykin and those guys get a lot of notoriety, but you’ve got a lot of good high-school football players with Nick Ligon, Kevin Martin, Jatavian Smith, Alonzo Ogletree, Devon Hill, and I could go on and on. Those guys have done a tremendous job defensively. They’re hungry, they fly to the football, and they give us an opportunity every Friday night.”

As soon as today’s game ends, Troup will turn its full focus to a Cartersville team that is off this week.

That’s nothing new for the Tigers, who have grown accustomed to facing teams that were off the previous week.

“It’s kind of funny how the region deal fell,” Glisson said. “There’s four teams in the region that have a bye in front of us, and they’ve had that the last two years. This is the third year. So people kind of overlook that a little bit. We always go in every Friday night not knowing quite what we’ll see.”

TROUP VS. CENTRAL-CARROLL

WHEN: Today, 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Carrollton

RECORDS: Troup (8-0, 4-0 in Region 5-AAAA); Central-Carroll (2-6 overall, 1-3 in Region 5-AAAA)

LAST MEETING: Troup beat Central-Carroll 35-14 last year