LaGrange, Troup open region play
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The road to the state playoffs begins this week for the LaGrange Grangers and Troup Tigers.
After playing two non-region games to begin the season, Troup and LaGrange will open their Region 2-AAAA schedules on Friday night against Hardaway and Columbus, respectively.
Also on Friday, Callaway will travel to Douglass-Atlanta for the third of its four non-region games, while Lafayette Christian will visit Southwest Georgia Academy.
The Troup Tigers, who were off last week, are 0-2 following losses to Callaway and Harris County, but they’ll get a chance to begin the all-important region schedule with a win this week.
Friday’s game will be played at Callaway Stadium, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m.
Hardaway, after thumping Americus-Sumter 33-3 in the season opener, lost to Callaway 17-6 last week.
“We have said since day one this that’s the biggest game of the season, because if you beat Hardaway, then you have the potential to set up some good things down the road,” said Troup head coach Tanner Glisson. “If you go in there and lose to Hardaway, then you’re behind the eight-ball. You’ve got to run the table to have a chance (to win the region title).”
Troup opened with a 28-14 loss to Harris County, and it fell to Callaway 27-7 two weeks ago.
Troup has struggled with slow starts in its first games, and Glisson is hoping that will change this week.
“This team, we need to play ahead,” Glisson said. “We need some confidence. We need to have a good start against Hardaway.”
LaGrange will begin its region schedule against Columbus, which is 0-2 after losses to Northside-Columbus and Pacelli.
While Columbus has had some success offensively with 21 points in each of its two games, it has given up a combined 76 points against Northside and Pacelli.
LaGrange is 1-1 after bouncing back from a 31-19 loss to Upson-Lee to beat Northside-Columbus 35-28.
LaGrange is looking to end a 23-game losing streak against region opponents that began in 2015.
After beating Central-Carroll in its first Region 5-AAAA game in 2015, LaGrange lost to Cedartown the following week, beginning the lengthy skid against region opponents.
After playing two hard-fought games to start the season, LaGrange head coach Matt Napier took an account of where the team stands during the off week.
“These first two games, you find out who has that will to win,” Napier said. “You go back and re-evaulate after the first couple of weeks.”
The Grangers’ next eight games will be against region opponents, and they’ll need to finish fourth or higher to qualify for the state playoffs.
Callaway, which is still a few weeks away from its Region 5-AA opener, will face a familiar opponent on Friday night.
A year ago, Callaway will beat Douglass-Atlanta 41-20 in the third round of the state tournament.
The rematch will be played at Douglass-Atlanta, and because of local school-system regulations, fans won’t be allowed in the stadium.
Callaway wraps up its non-region schedule against Thomas-County Central before opening region play on Oct. 23 against Haralson County.
Callaway won’t play a home game again until Oct. 30 when it plays region foe Bremen.
In private-school football, Lafayette Christian (2-0) will try to remain unbeaten when it faces Southwest Georgia Academy.
THIS WEEK’S GAMES
Hardaway at Troup, 7:30 p.m.
Callaway at Douglass-Atlanta, 7:30 p.m.
LaGrange at Columbus (Kinnett Stadium), 7:30 p.m.
Lafayette Christian at Southwest Georgia Academy, 7:30 p.m.