• 41°

Defense stands tall for Troup

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

The Troup Tigers have a high-flying offense that’s scoring 40 points per game, but that’s not the only reason they’re 9-0 heading into Friday’s showdown at Cartersville.

Troup also has a stingy defense that has been putting the clamps on opposing offenses all season.

That defense will be put to the test against Cartersville, which like Troup is averaging 40 points a game.

Troup’s defense has a few men who are being recruited by big-time college programs, but head coach Tanner Glisson said that unit “is built around really good high-school players.”

“You’re talking about Kevin Martin, Devon Hill, Alonzo Ogletree,” Glisson said. “Those are the guys that make the defense go. All that recruiting stuff is a moot point when the lights come on. All those guys are good football players.”

One of the defensive standouts has been Hill, a junior linebacker who has had a breakout season.

filled by Hill, and he has been one of Troup’s leading tacklers.

“Devon has been the real surprise,” Glisson said. “He’s probably currently our defensive MVP. We never thought that coming into the year. He has made a great step as a sophomore, going to a junior. That allowed a three-star linebacker to go play wide receiver.”

Troup’s other starting outside linebacker is senior King Mwikuta, a three-year starter who has committed to Alabama.

At inside linebacker, Kevin Martin is attempting to be Troup’s leading tackler for a third straight season, and Jatavian Smith has been terrific at that position as well.

On the defensive line, Glisson said “we rotate six guys up front.”

That includes junior Andy Boykin, who besides Mwikuta is the most heavily-recruited player on defense.

Kaliff Thornton, Jordan Adams, Jeremiah Holston, Royce White and Monta Hall have also been making plays on the defensive line.

“At certain times of the year, some guys are playing better than others,” Glisson said. “Right now, Jeremiah Holston is probably playing the best ball of anybody up front. He’s really doing a good job.”

The secondary was a question mark coming into the season because of some key losses to graduation, but it has developed into a position of strength.

Senior safety Nick Ligon has been a leader of that unit, as has defensive back Alonzo Ogletree, who had three interceptions in the first few games of the season.

Sophomore Jace Godwin has taken over a starting role this season and has performed well, and Manderious Dix has stepped up to solidify the secondary.

Glisson said that thanks to the performance of Dix, some key players on offense haven’t had to go both ways

“(Dix) has really stepped up and done a good job,” Glisson said. “We didn’t have him penciled in as a starter early in the season.”

Glisson said a “strength of the defense is the overall team speed,” as well as the versatility.

“You’ve got some guys playing defensive line who can actually play linebacker,” Glisson said. “So, you’ve got a couple of linebackers, Kevin Martin and Devon Hill, who can play defensive back. So you’ve got very interchangeable parts. When teams bring a personnel package in, we don’t have to substitute. We can just change the guys we have.”

If Troup’s defense has been stingy, then Cartersville’s has been downright miserly.

Cartersville has given up 50 points in nine games, and 20 of those points came against Cedartown.

Cartersville’s defense hasn’t given up a single point in the past three games, and it has held six teams to three points or fewer.

“I don’t think they’re nearly as athletic as they have been in the past,” Glisson said. “But because they’re so sound, and so well-coached, they’re able to play very fast. If you timed them in the 40 there probably wouldn’t be any eye-popping numbers. But they play with such great football speed, because they’re so well-coached. They’re moving fast. And they’re always in the right places. They do a great job of scouting offenses. They very seldom get in a wrong call.”

In the offseason, the decision was made to move linebacker Joko Willis to offense, and he has responded by leading the team in receptions.

Willis’ starting spot has been