Troup’s special season ends
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
They lost to the best.
If there’s any consolation for the Troup Tigers, whose season ended with a 51-35 setback to Blessed Trinity in the semifinals of the Class AAAA semifinals, it’s that their two losses were to teams with a combined record of 28-0.
Cartersville, which beat Troup in the regular-season finale, will play Blessed Trinity in the state-championship game next week.
“If we had to lose two games, losing to Blessed Trinity and Cartersville are two good ones,” Troup head coach Tanner Glisson said.
Troup hung tough with Blessed Trinity for most of the game.
After falling behind 14-0 early in the first quarter, the Tigers fought back and were within 10 points heading to the fourth quarter.
Blessed Trinity, with Ohio State-bound running back Steele Chambers leading the way, scored a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter to finally put it away.
Chambers was unstoppable.
The 6-foot-2 senior ran for 244 yards on 36 attempts, good for 6.8 yards per carry, and he scored three touchdowns.
Chambers also threw a 23-yard touchdown pass on a trick play, and senior quarterback Jake Smith completed 8-of-12 passes for 195 yards with three touchdowns.
“We got to within 10 in the fourth quarter, and had a lot of momentum,” Glisson said. “We just couldn’t tackle (Steele). We just had a hard time. We had to add an extra man to the box, and when we did, we opened up some things in the passing game. So it was a tough night physically trying to hold up.”
Blessed Trinity’s defense had its hands full as well trying to contain Troup quarterback Kobe Hudson, who enjoyed a phenomenal junior season.
Hudson completed 14-of-32 passes for 234 yards with three touchdowns, and he also ran for 204 yards on 18 attempts with a pair of touchdowns.
Hudson threw for 3,386 yards with 32 touchdowns this season, and he also ran for 1,410 yards on 151 attempts with 18 touchdowns.
Hudson was unstoppable in the playoffs.
In four playoff games, Hudson ran for 594 yards on 57 attempts with six touchdowns, and he threw for 573 yards with seven touchdowns.
“We’ve got a good nucleus coming back,” Glisson said. “Having Kobe coming back is big. He played out of his mind, and that was real good to see.”
Two of Hudson’s three touchdown passes in the Blessed Trinity game went to Jamari Thrash, who was one of the state’s leading receivers the past three years.
Thrash had three catches for 75 yards with the two touchdowns against Blessed Trinity, and he finished the season with 37 receptions for 888 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Over the past two seasons, Thrash caught more than 100 passes with 31 touchdowns.
Another senior, Joko Willis, had five catches for 114 yards in the Blessed Trinity game, and he led the team with 39 catches this season.
Running back Trey Williams, who will return next season, ran for 62 yards on eight attempts last week, and he also caught four passes for 38 yards with a touchdown.
The Tigers trailed by 28 points late in the first half last week when Hudson threw a touchdown pass to Thrash, making it a 34-12 game at the break.
The Tigers dominated the third quarter, outscoring the Titans 15-3, to get within 10 heading to the fourth quarter.
Blessed Trinity scored a pair of touchdowns early in the fourth quarter to regain control, and Troup capped the scoring on a scoring pass from Hudson to Thrash.
“We played hard, and we got after it,” Glisson said. “They’re just really good. There’s a reason why they’ve won so many games in a row. They were the better team.”
While it was a disappointing way to finish, it was nonetheless a special season for the Tigers, who set a program record for wins in a season while making it to the semifinals for the second time ever.
After going 1-9 in 2015, the Tigers were 29-8 the past three seasons, making this the best three-year stretch in the history of the program.
“They’ve done a really good job for us, and put us on the map where we can compete with everybody,” Glisson said.