Troup had it all working
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The Pickens County Dragons were riding high heading into last week’s state-playoff showdown with the Troup Tigers.
Pickens County was 11-0, and it was coming off the first state-playoff victory in the history of the program.
The Dragons were no match for the high-powered Tigers, though.
The Tigers were ahead 14-0 moments into the game, and they led 28-0 after the first quarter and 41-0 at the half.
By the time the clock hit zero, Troup had a 53-14 victory to advance to the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2003.
Troup will travel to Cairo on Friday with a berth in the Class AAAA semifinals on the line.
Troup had everything working in last week’s blowout win over Pickens County, with head coach Tanner Glisson calling it “the best game we’ve played all year.”
Troup made it look easy against a Pickens County team that had blown out nearly every team on its schedule.
A Pickens County offense that had been scoring close to 50 points per game was shut down, and Troup was able to do whatever it wanted to when it had the
“We had a great week of practice, and overall we’re very, very pleased,” Glisson said.
Here are some reasons why Troup was able to dispatch Pickens County in such comfortable fashion:
FAST START: In its lone loss of the season, Troup trailed 14-0 less than two minutes into the game and it never recovered on the way to a 43-10 setback against Cartersville.
In the Pickens County game, it was a role reversal.
Troup, thanks to two touchdown runs by Kobe Hudson, led 14-0, seemingly before the National Anthem had even finished being played.
“I told the coaches on the headsets when we got up like that, man this is their Cartersville right here,” Glisson said. “It was exactly what it turned into.”
Troup never let up after that, putting the game away early and not giving Pickens County even a thought of mounting a comeback.
“I think it being win or go home situation, it didn’t take much to get their attention,” Glisson said. “We kept our foot on the gas.”
UNSTOPPABLE OFFENSE: All of Troup’s offensive weapons were on display on the turf of Pickens County’s stadium.
With quarterback Kobe Hudson leading the way, the Tigers were unstoppable offensively, at least until late in the game when the starters had long left the field.
Hudson, a wide receiver during his first two seasons as a high-school player, moved to quarterback this year, and he has been making defenses look silly since day one.
Pickens County was helpless to slow Hudson, who accounted for five total touchdowns.
Hudson completed 7-of-13 passes for 201 yards with two touchdowns, and he also ran for 127 yards on just seven attempts with three touchdowns.
For the season, Hudson has thrown for 3,007 yards in 12 games with 28 touchdowns, and he’s run for 1,051 yards with 15 touchdowns.
Against Pickens, Hudson’s touchdown passes both went to junior Ja’Rell Smith, whose scoring catches covered a total of 125 yards.
Jamari Thrash also made some big plays in the passing game with three catches for 63 yards, and Tyree Carlisle and Joko Willis each had one reception.
Troup ran the ball at will.
With Hudson leading the way, Troup ran for 344 yards on 29 attempts, good for an average of 12 yards per carry.
Trey Williams needed just eight carries to amass 110 yards, and Carisle ran for 85 yards on nine attempts.
Overall, Troup ran for 344 yards on 29 attempts, an average of 11.9 yards per carry.
STINGY DEFENSE: While the Tigers were marching up and down the field on offense, their defense smothered the Dragons.
Before facing Troup, Pickens County’s low-point total for the season came in a 31-21 victory over Ridgeland.
Against Troup, Pickens County was held to 14 points, and those points came long after the outcome had been decided.
“Defensively, they worked really hard,” Glisson said. “We had a really good scheme. The coaches worked their tail off last week to get everybody prepared and ready to go, because it was a very difficult and our kids took to it really good. The biggest thing was, we didn’t want to give up big plays on big chunks, and I thought we did that.”
Among the defensive standouts for Troup were outside linebackers King Mwikuta and Devon Hill, inside linebacker Kevin Martin, and defensive lineman Kaliff Thornton.
Hill provided one of the night’s top highlights when he picked off a pass in the first half and raced 40 yards to the end zone for a defensive touchdown.
Glisson spent much of the week leading up to the game preparing his defensive players to face a Pickens County offense that features a variety of formation, and Troup was up to the challenge.
“It’s easy to make adjustments when you’ve got kids that have been around the block,” Glisson said.
PLENTY OF HELP: While the wins and losses go on Glisson’s record, he consistently acknowledges the yeomen’s work done by his assistants, many of whom have been with him since he became head in 2015.
Leading up to the Pickens County game, those coaches made sure every Troup player was prepared for whatever they’d face when kickoff arrived.
“Having that continuity, being able to make adjustments, and those guys being unselfish, that’s the name of the game,” Glisson said. “They kind of know what I’m thinking before I say it. That means volumes to have those guys as assistants.”