Title showdown for Troup
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
Here we go again.
For the past two years, the Region 5-AAAA race came down to the final game, with Cartersville and Troup facing off with the championship on the line.
On Friday night in Cartersville, it’ll be time for round three between those two teams, with the region title up for grabs once again.
Both teams have been flawless so far, amassing perfect records through nine games, setting the stage for Friday’s showdown for region supremacy.
Troup improved to 9-0 with last week’s 49-27 victory over Central-Carroll, while Cartersville was off last week.
Also this week, the LaGrange Grangers (1-8) will finish their season with a non-region game against Shaw on Friday, while the Callaway Cavaliers (9-1) are off after finishing the regular season with last week’s 56-0 win over Jordan.
In private-school football, the Lafayette Christian School Cougars (5-4) will host John Hancock Academy on Friday with a chance to win a region championship, and Unity Preparatory Academy of West Georgia visits Griffin Christian on Friday.
For Troup, playing Cartersville for the region’s top spot is a familiar position.
In 2016, Troup was 8-1 overall and unbeaten in the region when it traveled to Cartersville and lost 68-0.
A year ago, Troup was also 8-1 and it had one region loss when it fell to Cartersville 52-13 at home.
Troup is hoping for a better result this time around, although it’s another massive challenge
against a Cartersville team that has won 47 consecutive regular-season games.
“They have set the bar really high, and everybody’s trying to chase that bar,” Troup head coach Tanner Glisson said of Cartersville.
Cartersville hasn’t lost a region game since 2011, and it has won six consecutive region championships.
While Cartersville has been among the state’s elite teams for nearly a decade now, Troup is just three years removed from a 1-9 season.
In 2015, Glisson’s first year as head coach, Troup lost its first nine games before avoiding a winless season with a victory over Whitewater.
“It’s just an honor to be in those type of football games, and to see our hard work come to fruition,” Glisson said. “That’s what the kids sign up for They want to play in those type of games.”
For the past four years, Trevor Lawrence was Cartersville’s quarterback, and he set numerous passing records while leading the team to state championships in 2015 and 2016.
Lawrence is now starting at Clemson, but Cartersville has kept on trucking with junior Tee Webb stepping in at quarterback and getting the job done.
While Cartersville’s offense is averaging close to 40 points per game, the defense has been suffocating, allowing a total of 50 points in nine games.
While Lawrence got a lot of the attention in past yearS, Glisson said “people under-estimate how good their defense has been over the years. Their defense has been unbelievable, and they’re extremely well-coached. I don’t know that there’s a better-coached team in the area. So those guys do a tremendous job.”
Troup has been dominant this season as well.
The Tigers score 40 points per game with junior quarterback Kobe Hudson leading the way.
Montez Crowe was a record-setting quarterback for the Tigers the past two seasons, and Hudson has stepped in this season and been every bit as prolific while leading a high-powered offense.
Hudson has thrown for 2,467 yards with 25 touchdowns, and he has also run for 772 yards with 11 touchdowns.
“To be as efficient as we are, and to be sitting in the position (Hudson) has put us in, number one hats off to him, and secondly you have to take a hard look at our quarterback coach, coach (Paul) Brewer, and our offensive coordinator Kelby Holt, and you’re only as good as your offensive line, and your receivers, and the people around you,” Glisson said.
The defense has been up to the challenge as well.
The Tigers have been holding opponents to 15 points per game, and a lot of those points have come in the second half when the starters have left the field.
“King Mwikuta, and Andy Boykin and those guys get a lot of notoriety, but you’ve got a lot of good high-school football players like Nick Ligon, Kevin Martin, Jatavian Smith, Alonzo Ogletree, Devon Hill,” Glisson said. “I can go on and on and on. Those guys have done a tremendous job defensively. They’re hungry. They fly to the football. And so they give us an opportunity every Friday night.”
Nearly every key player from last year’s 9-3 returned, and a lot what was expected from the Tigers, and to this point they’ve lived up to the hype.
“We came into the season with high expectations, and we’ve been able to pretty much meet those expectations, at least to this point,” Glisson said. “I think this team has a lot of guts, has a lot of character, and has really answered the call all along the way.”
Whatever happens this week, Cartersville and Troup will both have to quickly turn the page and get ready for the state playoffs.
Both teams will be at home for the opening round of the playoffs next week.
LaGrange is hoping to end a disappointing season on a positive note.
The Grangers have been competitive in most of their games this season, but they’ve only secured one win so far.
LaGrange beat Hampton 8-6 on Sept. 7 to get its first win since 2016, but it has dropped its past six games, including last week’s 37-3 loss to Chapel Hill.
Chuck Gibbs, LaGrange’s first-year head coach, is hoping his players can bounce back from a tough night against Chapel Hill.
“It’s probably our worst effort mentally, and attitude-wise,” Gibbs said. “It’s a game we should have won in my opinion.”
It’s been a challenging season for Shaw as well, which is 3-6 overall and 2-6 in Region 1-AAAA.
Like LaGrange, Shaw’s season will end with Friday’s game.
Callaway is off this week, and its playoff fate will be determined by Friday’s game between Heard County and Bremen.
If Heard County wins, Callaway will share the Region 5-AA championship, and it will be the number two seed and will host a playoff game.
If Bremen wins, Callaway will finish third in the region, and it will be on the road for the opening round of the playoffs.
“It’s going to be fun,” Callaway offensive lineman Keiondre Jones said of the road ahead. “It’s all on us now.”
THIS WEEK’S GAMES
Shaw at LaGrange, 7:30 p.m.
Troup at Cartersville, 7:30 p.m.
John Hancock at Lafayette Christian, 7:30 p.m.
Unity Prep at Griffin Christian, 7:30 p.m.