Tigers hit the road to face Columbus
Published 2:45 pm Thursday, September 5, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The grind rolls on for the Troup Tigers.
Troup, which opened its season with a 59-24 win over Ridgeland last week, continues its challenging non-region schedule with a road game against the Columbus Blue Devils on Thursday, with kickoff set for 7 p.m. at Kinnett Stadium.
Troup plays Harris County and Callaway the next two weeks before beginning its Region 5-AAAA schedule against Chapel Hill on Sept. 27.
All four of Troup’s non-region opponents were in the playoffs last season, and three of them won at least one game at state.
That includes a resurgent Columbus team that went 7-5 last season and reached the second round of the playoffs.
Following the non-region games, Troup jumps into its rugged region schedule that includes two teams, Cartersville and Sandy Creek, ranked in the top five of every poll in the state.
“The road gets tougher as we go,” Troup head coach Tanner Glisson said. “Harris County, I watched them on film, and they’re really good, and they’ll possibly be 3-0 coming into our game. And Callaway is good. I think every team on our schedule is good enough to have a winning record. Everybody can’t, but you can look at every team and make a case for every team having a winning record in one scenario or the other, so man it’s tough.”
At the moment, Troup’s sole focus is on finding a way to deal with Columbus, which is 1-0 after beating Spencer 20-14 two weeks ago.
“They present a good challenge for us overall,” Glisson said. “They’re very well-coached. They beat Spencer two weeks ago, and they played well in their scrimmage game, too.”
The Tigers started a bit slowly in last week’s season opener, but they ended up winning easily, with senior quarterback Kobe Hudson delivering a stunning performance.
All Hudson did was complete 14-of-18 passes for 326 yards with three touchdowns, while running for 240 yards on 14 attempts with three touchdowns.
That’s nearly 600 combined yards with six touchdowns for Hudson, who was named the Georgia High School Football Daily player of the week.
Senior running back Trey Williams also had a monster game with 210 yards on 24 attempts with a touchdown, and he caught two passes for 37 yards.
Zy Varner, a newcomer to the wide-receiver corps, caught three passes for a whopping 147 yards with a touchdown, and Mark-Anthony Dixon had three receptions for 88 yards with two touchdowns.
Senior tight end Luke Purnell had four catches for 32 yards and had a stellar all-around game according to Glisson.
“Luke Purnell had his best game in a Troup uniform,” Glisson said. “He caught four passes, which matched his total from last year almost. The things that he did without the ball, the blocking, the things we asked him to do, he was like a linebacker playing F back. It was really good to see.”
Glisson was particularly pleased with the effort of an offensive line that helped Troup amass 462 rushing yards.
It’s an offensive line that included Royce White, Tyler Kitchens, Will Cooley, Braxton Truitt and Michael Irvin.
“I said I was real high all offseason on our offensive line, and I think everybody sees why now, when you’re able to run the ball at will like we were able to,” Glisson said.
The straw that stirs the drink on offense is Hudson, who was a wide receiver his first two seasons in high school before moving to quarterback.
Hudson did whatever he wanted to last week, whether he was making plays with is legs, or his powerful and accurate right arm.
Hudson’s most memorable play came in the second half when the game was still very much in doubt.
Hudson dropped back and was under pressure, and after eluding a handful of tackle attempts and reversing his field a few times, tossed a strike downfield for a long completion to Varner.
“He can run around and run around, and still have enough on his throw to get the ball downfield,” Glisson said. “A lot of people run around, and they’re a little exhausted so they might throw up a ball, but he throws a laser.”
Despite winning by 35 points and scoring eight touchdowns, there were some things that went wrong during the game, and Glisson was glad to see the players have to deal with some negative moments.
“It was good experience,” Glisson said. “It was good for them to have some adversity, and learn on the fly, and see who could adjust, and who couldn’t. You’ll see some defensive guys in some different spots this week. All in all, I think the upside’s good.”
TROUP VS. COLUMBUS
WHEN: Thursday, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Kinnett Stadium
RECORDS: Troup (1-0); Columbus (1-0)
LAST GAME: Troup beat Ridgeland 59-24; Columbus beat Spencer 20-14
ALL-TIME SERIES: Troup leads 17-0
LAST MEETING: Troup beat Columbus 47-