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Troup soccer making strides

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

Wins were hard to come by for the Troup High boys’ soccer team, but head coach Eddie Lawson never once questioned the effort the players were giving.

“A lot of the (opposing) coaches, after the game, win or lose, they always said your kids played hard, and that’s all you can ask for,” Lawson said. “They don’t get frustrated. They just keep going at it. And that’s all you can really ask of them.”

The Tigers, like every other spring-sports team, saw their season cut short because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Troup was preparing for a region home game against Cedartown on March 13 when the season was suspended, and it was later canceled.

It was a challenging season for the Tigers who only one once, but they were in a lot of matches, and nearly every one of the players will be returning next spring.

The only two seniors on the team, in fact, are Will Bartlett and Danny Conner.

“We have two seniors, and we had five freshmen that started,” Lawson said. “We had I think five or six freshmen that started on the (junior-varsity team). If you look at the program, it’s almost like it’s starting from scratch. It’s not, but it seems that way if you look at the number of eighth-graders and freshmen that are starting on the varsity and JV teams.”

As for the two seniors, Lawson is appreciative of everything they’ve done for the program.

Bartlett and Conner were both four-year members of the varsity program, and they hung in there through some difficult seasons and a couple of coaching changes.

“I think they both show great character, great dedication to themselves and their teammates,” Lawson said. “When you play a team sport, soccer is almost like football. It’s about as close to the ultimate team sport as you can have. You can’t play it by yourself. So I think that speaks a lot about their commitment to themselves, the sport, their team, their school, their community. When we dress, we’re wearing Troup County on our uniform, and that’s who we’re representing.”

Troup’s lone win came against Hardaway, and Troup was competitive in a number of other games.

“We beat Hardaway, we were right there with Griffin, and we were in a game with Shaw,” Lawson said. “We played LaGrange tough for a half. That just shows you we’re getting there. We’ve got to grow. We’ve got to mature. We’ve got to get the weight room going, work on the offseason stuff.”

Troup will join a new region next season.   After playing in Region 5-AAAA for the past four seasons, Troup will be a part of Region 2-AAAA next spring.

The region will include Troup and LaGrange, as well as Columbus, Kendrick, Shaw, Carver-Columbus, Jordan, Spencer and Hardaway.

Lawson’s hope is that the team will continue to improve next season, and possibly compete for one of the region’s four state-playoff invitations.

“It’s like anything else,” Lawson said. “If you really want to be good at something, you’ve got to commit the time and effort to it.”