Tigers hope to keep flying high
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
Coming off a memorable season, the best in the history of the program, the Troup Tigers will give their fans a sneak preview of what’s to come on Friday night.
Troup, which went 12-2 last year and lost to eventual state-champion Blessed Trinity in the Class AAAA semifinals, will be at Kinnett Stadium in Columbus for a preseason game against the Northside Patriots.
Troup will begin playing for keeps when it hosts Ridgeland in the regular-season opener on Aug. 30.
While Friday’s preseason game won’t count toward the win-loss total, head coach Tanner Glisson believes it still provides plenty of value.
“It’s important just to kind of go through the routine, especially being on the road, with travel and logistics, and then just try to get everybody on film so we can evaluate,” Glisson said. “That’s the biggest thing.”
The starters will play in the first half, and in the second half Glisson will begin emptying the bench and making sure anyone in uniform gets an opportunity to play.
“The fourth quarter, we’ll get everybody off the bench, get the ninth-graders in there,” Glisson said. “We’ll try to play everybody on the roster.”
After Friday, Troup will have two weeks to prepare for its opener against Ridgeland.
Ridgeland begins its season next week against Calhoun.
“We’re kind of at a disadvantage because they’ll have one game under their belt, so we have to make sure we play this game Friday to answer some of the questions we have,” Glisson said.
The Tigers began preseason practice on July 25, and like every other team, they’ve had to make allowances for the extreme summer heat.
Earlier this week, for instance, Troup didn’t practice because of the heat.
On other days because of the heat, the Tigers had to practice without pads, or go indoors.
“It’s not ideal, but we have really good philosophies in place, and we try to take care of the kids, and be really smart,” Glisson said. “Whenever you have any doubt, we try to err on the side of caution, and so far, so good.”
Last week, Glisson and two of his players went to Columbus for the first-ever PrepZone Kickoff, which was put on by WRBL.
Glisson was joined by two of his players, defensive lineman Andy Boykin, and tight end Luke Purnell.
Boykin is someone Glisson has consistently pushed over the past few years, and he wanted to recognize him for the positive things he’s done.
“I’m so very hard on him, but if you’re hard on him all the time and never give him anything positive, what’s his reason for being here,” Glisson said. “There are other folks I could take, but I felt it was time for me to reward him a little bit. It was time for me to pat him on the back a little bit, and recognize his progress.”
Purnell, who is also a standout in baseball, is one of the team leaders on the football team.
“Luke is one of our team captains, voted on by his peers,” Glisson said. “He’s on our team council. You can’t say enough good things about Luke. He’s an unbelievable player and athlete, and student.”
Glisson appreciated the effort that went into the event.
“It was basically like their viewing area’s media day, and it was a very nice deal,” Glisson said. “It was right there on the river, and there was a great spread. It was very intimate. There were only like 15 teams invited, so it was really cool, and it was really neat how they took the players through the interview process, so it was nice.”
Expectations are high for the Tigers, who are ranked as high as second in some preseason polls.
In 2018, Troup set a program record for wins in a season while making it to the state semifinals for the second time ever.
With all-state quarterback Kobe Hudson leading the way, the Tigers scored more than 30 points per game.
In Troup’s final game, it scored five touchdowns in a 51-35 loss to Blessed Trinity.
Troup is 29-8 over the past three years, and it has improved its win total in each of those seasons.
Expectations are sky-high this season, and Glisson is OK with that.
“Our internal expectations are just as high if not higher than the external expectations,” Glisson said. “I don’t know that we necessarily have to taper that, we embrace it and see pressure as privilege. We’re excited to get going.”