Rested Tigers chasing first win
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
Before the Troup Tigers played their first game, head coach Tanner Glisson talked about the optimism he felt about the season ahead.
The Tigers have dropped their first two games, losing to the Harris County Tigers and the Callaway Cavaliers, but Glisson’s positive feelings about his team has not changed a bit.
“We’re not anywhere close to playing our best ball. It’s still ahead of us,” Glisson said. “We’re still getting better. I really do like this football team. I’ve said it since day one, it’s a high-character group that’s athletic, and we just need to be able to take some things we’re doing at practice and transfer it to Friday night. That starts with execution, taking care of the ball, making special-teams plays. But we feel really good. I think we can be a really good football team.”
After losing its first two games, Troup was off last week in preparation for this week’s Region 2-AAAA opener against Hardaway on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Callaway Stadium.
“It was good just to work,” Glisson said. “It was one of the more productive bye weeks that I’ve been a part of. We went Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and school was canceled on Thursday, and we practiced Friday. We were able to go see Hardaway and Callaway on Friday, and we had about 30 players that were there to watch.”
This week’s test against Hardaway will be the start of Troup’s eight-game region schedule, and it will need to finish fourth or higher to qualify for the state playoffs for the fifth consecutive year.
“They’re big, they’re very athletic, and they’re physical,” Glisson said of Hardaway. “It’s going to be the third game in a row that we’re going to play a playoff team, because all three teams we’ve played will make the playoffs in some form or fashion. But, we’re going to be right there, too, and we need to go beat a good football team. This would be a quality win, and that’s the big thing. You look for those quality wins that can turn your season. This could be one of them.”
Troup opened its season with a 28-14 loss to Harris County, and it followed that up with a 27-7 loss to Callaway.
There have been some bright spots in both losses.
The defense has performed admirably, and while the Tigers have only scored three touchdowns, the offense has moved the ball well at times with freshman quarterback Taeo Todd leading the way.
Against Callaway, Todd ran for 108 yards on eight carries, and he found Navelle Dean in the third quarter for his first career touchdown pass.
Todd won the quarterback job during the summer, and Glisson sees nothing but big things ahead for the freshman.
“We’re still very confident in the guy we chose, and he hasn’t batted an eye,” Glisson said. “He has the demeanor. He just wants to play ball. We have no fear of giving him the keys. The more he plays, the better he’s going to get.”
It helps that Todd has some talented play-makers on the field with him.
Senior running back Anthony Ferguson was limited to 27 yards by Callaway, but he had an explosive opener against Harris County with more than 200 yards and two touchdowns.
Running back AJ Tucker had a solid game against Callaway with 48 yards on seven carries, and Dean had a breakout game with four catches for 40 yards with a touchdown.
Troup’s offense will have its hands full against a Hardaway team that has given up 20 points in two games and held Callaway scoreless in the second half last week.
Defensively, Troup will look to contain Hardaway’s talented quarterback, DJ Lucas, who has thrown for 252 yards in two games with a pair of touchdowns.
Hardaway opened with a 33-3 win over Americus-Sumter before losing to Callaway 17-6.
Glisson is hoping this will be the week everything comes together for his team, and that it leads to some big things down the road.
“I feel like when the light comes on with this football team, it’ll be full-steam ahead, and they won’t look back,” Glisson said. “It’s going to be really fun. I think we have the opportunity to do that.”
Regardless of what happens Friday, Glisson has no doubt that every player will continue to give it everything he has.
“The culture of our team is really good,” Glisson said. “We like coaching the guys. They’re a fun group to be around. They haven’t batted an eye since we started, all through the protocols, through the quarantine, through two losses. When they turn the corner, they’re going to be a really good football team.”
TROUP VS. HARDAWAY
WHEN: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Callaway Stadium
RECORDS: Troup (0-2); Hardaway (1-1)
LAST MEETING: Troup beat Hardaway 31-28 in 2017