Big-time challenge for Tigers
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
Here we go again.
For the fourth consecutive season, the Troup Tigers will end the regular season with a showdown against the Cartersville Purple Hurricanes.
While Cartersville has already wrapped up an eighth consecutive region championship, Troup is still fighting to secure one of Region 5-AAAA’s four state-playoff spots.
Troup (5-3 overall, 3-2 in region play) will make the playoffs with a win over Cartersville, or a Cedartown victory over Chapel Hill.
There is also the possibility that Troup could end up in a three-way tie for third place in the region, so it would come down to the tie-breakers.
Troup is coming off arguably its most complete performance of the season in a 37-14 victory over a Central-Carroll team that had been giving everybody fits.
Troup was dominant defensively, and the offense churned out 451 rushing yards, with Trey Williams leading the way with 265 yards and two touchdowns.
“We’re just going to keep doing what we’ve been doing and keep making progress,” said Tanner Glisson, Troup’s head coach. “The coaches have made a lot of great adjustments. You always look and say has a team gotten better as the season has gone along? That’s a big deal, and most definitely we have. Will it show up Friday? We’ll see.”
It will be the biggest challenge of the season for the Tigers.
Remarkably, the Purple Hurricanes are possibly on the verge of their fifth consecutive perfect regular season, and they haven’t lost a region game since 2011.
Since the start of the 2012 season, Cartersville is 100-6, and it won state championships in 2015 and 2016.
During the regular season since 2012, Cartersville’s only loss came in 2014 when it fell to a team from Florida.
It helped that for four seasons the Purple Hurricanes had Trevor Lawrence playing quarterback, but they haven’t skipped a beat since Tee Webb took over that position in 2018.
“They have been doing it so long and have such a good tradition that they know how to turn it on at the right time, especially late in the season,” Glisson said. “So it’ll be a big challenge for us.”
The past three years, Troup headed into the Cartersville game with an opportunity to win the region championship.
A year ago, both teams were 9-0 when Cartersville beat Troup 43-10 to continue its string of winning region titles.
Cartersville took an early 14-0 lead last season, and it didn’t look back.
“The last three years, all three have been for the region championship. There’s been a lot of hoopla around it,” Glisson said. “The first two years they were better than us. Last year talent-wise, we were probably a little better than they were, but they out-coached us, and we got behind so fast.”
For Troup, the formula for success will likely be similar to what it was last week against Central-Carroll.
The Tigers were stingy on defense, limiting the Lions to less than 200 yards, and they got it done offensively with an unstoppable running game.
While Williams had the best game of his high-school career with 265 yards, quarterback Kobe Hudson had 148 rushing yards.
Hudson only completed two passes, but one of them went for a touchdown to Nick Schweizer.
The Tigers have been a prolific passing team in recent years, and while they still have the ability to make big plays in the air, they are more of a running team now with Williams leading the way.
Hudson threw for more than 2,000 yards last season, but the Tigers’ three leading receivers all left.
“We came into the season wanting to be who we were last year, and it just didn’t turn out to be that way,” Glisson said. “When you hear coaches say we’re still searching for our identity, that’s what they mean. We’ve finally figured that out.”
WHEN: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Callaway Stadium
RECORDS: Troup (5-3 overall, 3-2 in Region 5-AAAA); Cartersville (9-0 overall, 5-0 in Region 5-AAAA)
LAST YEAR: Cartersville beat Troup 43-10