Tigers eyeing first win
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The Troup Tigers did plenty of things right last week against Harris County, but they were unable to overcome six turnovers, as well as a costly blocked punt, in a season-opening 28-14 loss.
“The biggest stat was six turnovers to two turnovers, and when you lose that turnover battle six to two, you’re not going to win many games,” said Troup head coach Tanner Glisson. “That’s the bottomline. It doesn’t matter who you play. So we can’t turn the ball over, and I’m counting the blocked punt as a turnover. You can’t do those kind of things.”
Troup will look to clean things up when it faces the rival Callaway Cavaliers on Friday night at Callaway Stadium, with kickoff set for 8 p.m.
While it will be Troup’s second game, it’s the season opener for Callaway, which had its game with Opelika canceled because of the Georgia High School Association’s decision to delay the start of the season by two weeks.
This will be the 11th time the two rivals have played since 2008, and they’ve each won five games, with Callaway evening the all-time series with a wild 56-45 victory last year.
“We scored 40-something points against them last year, they just had total mismatches everywhere you looked with Tank (Bigsby), and (Charlie) Dixon coming in (at running back), and the receivers against our defensive backs,” Glisson said. “We feel better about it this year. It’s going to be a tall task, but we’re excited to get out there again and go play.”
The Tigers found themselves facing a 14-0 halftime deficit last week, but they got within seven thanks to an electrifying 97-yard touchdown run by Ferguson.
After Harris County went up 21-14, Ferguson had a 29-yard touchdown run, and it was a seven-point game once again.
In the end, though, Troup was unable to overcome the miscues, with Harris County finding a way to get the win even though it was outgained by nearly 200 yards.
“Hopefully we’ve learned from it, and hopefully we’ll put our guys and our young quarterback (freshman Taeo Todd) in some better positions, so we’ll see,” Glisson said.
Todd completed 7-of-20 passes for 130 yards with one interception against Harris County, and he also ran for 52 yards on 14 attempts.
Ferguson, meanwhile, had a monster night with 225 yards on 24 attempts with two touchdowns, and Navontae Moss had 45 yards on six carries.
Ferguson also made an impact in the passing game with two catches for 50 yards, while wide receiver Dwartney Wortham had two receptions for 51 yards.
Harris County was led by quarterback Cooper Corey, who was hit a lot, but managed to complete 9-of-15 passes for 105 yards with a touchdown, and he also ran for a touchdown.
KD Hutchinson had a pair of touchdown runs for Harris County while running for 48 hard-earned yards on seven carries.
“We kept playing, but it was 14-0 with a 14-year-old quarterback, and that’s trouble,” Glisson said. “We can’t put ourselves in that situation.”
Last year, while Todd was making plays for the Long Cane Middle School Cougars, Troup and Callaway played a memorable game where the teams combined for more than 100 points.
Troup fell behind 40-14, but it fought back and got within three in the second half before Callaway held on to win 56-45.
In 2015, Glisson’s first season as Troup’s head coach, Callaway won 42-24, and the teams didn’t play the next two years.
In 2018, Troup beat Callaway 37-20, and both teams went on to advance to the state semifinals that year.
“It’s a really great rivalry,” Glisson said. “Every game I’ve been involved in, except for the first year I was here which was a different story all together, one team has tried to go off and hide from the other one and just can’t do it. It seems like somebody gets a lead, and the other one comes storming back. You may have a couple of lead changes here and there. It’s high drama. It’s exciting.”
After the Callaway game, Troup will take a week off before opening its Region 2-AAAA schedule against Hardaway on Sept. 25.
“We knew we were going to have some growing pains coming into the season,” Glisson said. “We have this game, and then we get a bye week. We can catch our breath. By that point, we’ll kind of know who we are, and we know where our strengths and weaknesses are, and we’ll get ready to go play our region schedule and hopefully put ourselves in a position to challenge for a region championship.”
TROUP VS. CALLAWAY
WHEN: Friday, 8 p.m.
WHERE: Callaway Stadium
RECORDS: Troup (0-1); Callaway (0-0)
LAST MEETING: Callaway won 56-45 last year
ALL-TIME SERIES: Callaway and Troup have each won five games