Troup football team gets to work
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
With a countdown to a new football season growing shorter, the Troup Tigers have returned to work.
The Tigers were in the midst of their offseason strength and conditioning program and preparing for spring practice when everything was shut down in the middle of March because of the coronavirus.
For nearly three months, teams in Troup County were unable to get together, which meant no games, no practices, no weight-lifting sessions, no sports activities of any kind.
The Georgia High School Association recently cleared the way for teams to resume face-to-face activities with plenty of restrictions, and Monday was the first day the doors to the gyms and other athletic facilities were open to the players since March.
“We were excited to see them,” said Troup head coach Tanner Glisson. “We had to back them down a little bit. They were happy to see us, and some of their friends they hadn’t seen in a long time. So I don’t know how many times we yelled, we’ve got to social distance. We can’t huddle up. But that’s a good problem to have.”
Considering everything that’s been happening over the past few months, from the coronavirus, to the nation-wide protests, Glisson is glad to be able to meet with his players face-to-face and talk to them.
“The world has really been turned upside-down,” Glisson said. “So, it was good to see them, to talk to them, to let them give us some feedback on some stuff.”
The Tigers are having to follow a handful of guidelines designed to minimize the health risk to the players and coaches.
Most notably, teams aren’t permitted to use footballs, groups can’t have more than 20 people including players and coaches, social distancing must be maintained, and the players must have the temperature taken while answering a series of health-related questions.
Troup’s coaches met extensively last week in preparation for the return of the players, and Glisson felt everything went smoothly on day one, although there is a learning curve.
“It’s a situation where you really have to crawl before you can walk,” Glisson said. “You have to really slow down, teach them the protocols, do a good job with the screening, do a good job with the disinfecting. Maybe not get as much done as you typically would.”
When the school’s facilities closed in March, the coaches kept in touch with the players through electronic means, including regular Zoom meetings. The players were responsible for working out on their own, and how far along they are physically is being put to the test this week.
“For the most part our older guys came in in good shape,” Glisson said. “The younger guys, it was a little bit to be desired, but that was to be expected. They’re a little bit younger, not as seasoned. But all in all, it was pretty good.”
As for the participation on day one, Glisson said “we’re only missing a few guys out of 100, so that wasn’t bad.”
The players have been divided into five groups, and they’ll work with the same coach throughout this first stage of summer conditioning.
Each day the players will split their time between the weight room and the indoor practice field where they can work on conditioning.
Glisson said these first few days, “you’re also trying to gauge where are they as far as conditioning and strength. We’ve never had a break this long before. It’s kind of a balancing deal.”
Glisson feels it is important for the players to not do too much.
“We had a kid that did some running, and missed four or five of his reps,” Glisso said. “He said tomorrow I’ll come in and redo it and do extra. I said no, no, no, that’s now what this is about. It was about seeing where everybody was, and what you could do.”
Troup has a preseason game scheduled for Aug. 7 at Newnan, and it will host a preseason game on Aug. 14 against Heard County.
Troup’s regular-season opener is Aug. 21 at Harris County, and it will play Callaway on Aug. 28 before beginning its eight-game Region 2-AAAA schedule on Sept. 11 against Hardaway.
The Tigers went 6-5 last season while reaching the state playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, and they’ve won 35 games since the start of the 2016 season.