Tigers look for bounce-back win
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The road to the state playoffs begins on Friday for the Troup Tigers.
Troup (3-1), which finished the non-region portion of its schedule with a 56-45 loss to Callaway last week, will open Region 5-AAAA play on Friday at Chapel Hill (3-1).
It’s the start of what should be a grueling region schedule for Troup, which finished second in the region last season before advancing to the state semifinals.
The region includes three teams, Cartersville, Sandy Creek and Troup, who were all ranked among the top-five teams in a handful of preseason polls.
The region also features some other quality teams, including Chapel Hill, which improved to 3-1 with last week’s 29-8 win over Whitewater.
“Chapel Hill is really good, so we’ll have to play well,” Troup head coach Tanner Glisson said.
Troup is coming off an emotionally-draining loss to Callaway.
Trailing 40-14 at the half, Troup scored three touchdowns in a six-minute span to get within three late in the third quarter.
The comeback stalled at that point, and Callaway ended up winning by 11 points.
While Troup enjoyed plenty of success offensively, finding the end zone six times, it was unable to slow down Callaway.
Troup had a particularly challenging time dealing with Callaway quarterback Demetrius Coleman, who threw for 254 yards with a pair of touchdowns.
“They max protected, and got him away from the strength of our defense, and gave him time to throw the ball to one-on-one matchups,” Glisson said. “And they made every one-on-one play.”
It was the second consecutive game where Troup faced a team with an elite receiving corps.
Before playing Callaway, Troup had its hands full with Harris County on the way to a 27-21 win.
“Other than Sandy Creek, I don’t think we’ll see better receivers then what we’ve seen the last two weeks,” Glisson said.
The challenge will be a different one this week.
Chapel Hill throws the ball sparingly, relying instead on an effective running game.
Chapel Hill quarterback Bradley Turner has only thrown for 266 yards in four games, and he has one touchdowns.
The Panthers’ bread-and-butter is its ground game, with Imani Davis leading the way with 415 yards on 50 carries with two touchdowns.
As a team this season, Chapel Hill has 915 rushing yards with six touchdowns.
“Early in the season, they tried to throw it around,” Glisson said. “I think they’re settled into being a more run-heavy team.”
Troup has been successful on the ground as well.
Running back Trey Williams is having a big season with 645 yards on 84 attempts with seven touchdowns, and quarterback Kobe Hudson has 558 rushing yards on 54 carries with five touchdowns.
With Hudson leading the way, Troup is also a prolific passing team.
Hudson has completed 44-of-74 passes for 784 yards and 11 touchdowns, and Zy Varner has 10 catches for 325 yards and five touchdowns.
“We’ve got to go out and play really well,” Glisson said. “You worry fatigue-wise how we are. It’s been hot all week. We haven’t had a chance to recover really good, so we’ll see.”
TROUP VS. CHAPEL HILL
WHEN: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Chapel Hill
RECORDS: Troup (3-1); Chapel Hill (3-1)
LAST YEAR: Troup beat Chapel Hill 56-24