Troup opens against long-time rival
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
More than 60 years ago, the Troup Tigers and Harris County Tigers shared a football field for the first time.
Troup, under the direction of head coach Charles Howell, used an overpowering defense and a strong running game to beat Harris County 20-0.
That was the first of 34 games between the neighboring schools, and they’ll meet for the 35th time on Friday night at Harris County in the season opener for both teams.
Troup leads the all-time series 28-5-1, and it won last year’s game 27-21 at Callaway Stadium.
“The kids know each other,” said Tanner Glisson, Troup’s sixth-year head coach. “We’ve got a lot of kids that know each other, that go to church with each other. So it is a good little rivalry.”
Harris County had won three straight games in the series before Troup eased to a 53-6 win in 2018 on the way to a 12-2 season.
Last year, Harris County had the ball in Troup territory in the closing moments with a chance to win it with a touchdown, but Jabralin Gooden came through with an interception to clinch the victory.
.“They’ve got really good coaches, and they’re very talented,” Glisson said. “At the quarterback position, at the wide-receiver position, they’re very skilled. So it’s going to be a challenge.”
Harris County is led by junior quarterback Cooper Corey, who nearly led his team to a victory over Torup last season.
Corey helped lead Harris County (5-6) to the state playoffs last year, and it lost to Starr’s Mill in the first round.
Troup (6-5), meanwhile, advanced to the Class AAAA state playoffs before losing to eventual state-champion Blessed Trinity 31-16 in the opening round.
For both teams, preparing for an opponent has been a little different this season since there weren’t any preseason games.
“We’re holding a few surprises, and I’m sure they’re holding some surprises,” Glisson said. “So I think it’s going to be the group that figures out what the other is doing first. So that first quarter, first half, may be trying to figure out what everybody is doing. So we’ll try to get a bead on that as quickly as possible, and let our guys go play.”
For Troup, this is the first of two challenging games before it opens Region 2-AAAA play on Sept. 25 against Hardaway.
“At the end of the day, Harris County and Callaway are great litmus tests for us to figure out where we are,” Glisson said. “We want to win both of those, and we’ve won a lot of games the last four years, so the goal is to win. On the flip side of that, we’ve got to be prepared going into Hardaway. That’s our biggest game of the year.”
While Troup has plenty of experienced players on the field, there will be a newcomer at the critical quarterback position.
Taeo Todd, who a year ago this time was making plays for the Long Cane Middle School Cougars, won the quarterback job, and he’ll be under center for the Harris County game.
Fortunately for Todd, he’ll be surrounded by veteran players on offense, so he’ll have plenty of help.
Troup has two experienced running backs in Anthony Ferguson and Navontae Moss, and there are three returning starters on the offensive line, including center Will Cooley, Braxton Truitt and Royce White.
Todd also has some veteran wide receivers to throw the ball to, including Marquavious Kelley and Zy Varner.
“There aren’t too many new faces around him, so that’s really good, and a positive thing, and we’ve got to stay healthy,” Glisson said.
Troup has plenty of seasoned players on defense as well, including defensive linemen Zy Varner, Jordan Adams and Xavier Clarke, who all started last year.
Also back is linebacker A.J. Tucker, who was one of Troup’s top defensive players as a freshman, and Jace Godwin, Sirr Morgan and Kullum Irvin all have experience in the secondary.
“We’ve got a long way to go, but I like the makeup of (the team),” Glisson said. “It has potential to be a really good team. We’ll see if we can progress every day, and see if we can stay away from the injury bug.”
WHEN: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Harris County
LAST YEAR: Troup went 6-5; Harris County went 5-6
LAST MEETING: Troup beat Harris County 27-21 last season