2023 season preview: Troup looks to build on best season in program history

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, August 16, 2023

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The Troup Tigers have high aspirations for 2023. The Tigers put together one of the best — if not the best — season in program history in 2022. The team won its first region title since 1987, won the most games in school history (12) and made it to the state semifinals for just the third time in program history.

“It was a tremendous run, the best run in Troup history,” Troup coach Tanner Glisson said. “Looking back on it, we were very fortunate. We played very good ball, but we also stayed healthy for the most part.

“There is a lot of good you can take from that year, but you have to look forward.”

Troup is hungry for its first state title in program history and this could be the team that finally delivers it. Stacked with college bound talent, the Tigers are looking to make a run to the first championship game in program history.

Troup lost just four starters from its offense and defense total. With so much continuity, expectations are sky high from everybody outside the program, but Glisson has his players focused on getting better one day at a time, one game at a time.

“You have to slow down and enjoy the process because as fast as it gets here it will be gone,” Glisson said. “We have put in a tremendous amount of work. We are excited, but we are focused on taking it one day at a time.”

Troup will once again play in one of the toughest regions in the state of Georgia. The Tigers will have to contend with rivals LaGrange, Starr’s Mill, Whitewater, all who made the playoffs last year and will have Troup in their sights as they all look to snatch the region crown away. This does not even take into account Trinity Christian, who narrowly missed out on the playoffs a season ago and will be hungry to get back to that level.

“We know that we are going to be going up against some really good teams that have some really good gameplans,” Glisson said. “We have a bullseye on our back with us being region champs, and hopefully, we will be up for the challenge.”

The Tigers will have a familiar, but new face, in charge of the defense this season. Quin Prather was promoted from defensive backs coach to defensive coordinator in the offseason, and Glisson believes the defense will be as strong as ever.

“He has come up through our system and knows what I’m looking for defensively,” Glisson said. “Our defense won’t change much schematically, but he really brings a wealth of knowledge to our defense.” 



The Tigers have no quarterback dilemma on their hands as AAAA player of the year finalist for 2022, Taeo Todd, is returning for his senior season for Troup.

“I’m not sure we can ask much more from him stat-wise, but we have challenged Taeo to make this team better,” Glisson said. “He is not concerned about individual stats, and that is what makes him such a good leader for us.”

Todd put up gaudy statistics in his junior campaign en route to being named region 4-AAAA player of the year. He threw for 2,444 yards for 29 passing touchdowns with just six interceptions while completing 63.8% of his passes, but it was these numbers combined with what he was able to accomplish on the ground (232 carriers for 2012 yards and 27 rushing touchdowns) that was so impressive.

It will be hard for the senior to top his production in 2022, but he will remain the focal point of the Tigers offense.

Behind their All-State quarterback is Logan Sinkfield, who will provide quality depth at the position. Sinkfield played quarterback at Creekside High School before transferring to Troup for his junior year, which saw him transition to a starting wide receiver role.

“If something were to happen, Logan Sinkfield would get the call,” Glisson said. 



Troup will be losing some of its oomph in the run game as bruising tailback Tray Blackmon, who finished third on the team last year in carries (74) and yards (438), departed for college. Fortunately, the Tigers will be returning the leading rusher from the tailback position as Javari Fannin is back for his senior year.

“Javari is the straw that stirs the drink for us,” Glisson said. “He’s a really good football player regardless of where he lines up on the field, whether that is at running back or linebacker.”

Fannin — a two-way player — finished his junior season with 97 carries for 468 yards and four touchdowns. 

TJ Mitchell, a senior, and junior Ashton Williams will also figure into the equation in the backfield. The duo combined for just 11 carries and 23 yards a season ago but will be called on to do more this year. 

“Ashton is taking a big step from his sophomore to junior year,” Glisson said. “We are excited to get him going. He can really catch the ball out of the backfield as a converted wide receiver.”

Sinkfield could see some reps in the backfield. The senior finished with 27 carries and 188 yards a season ago.



Gone is Qua Moss — last year’s leading receiver and the region 4-AAAA athlete of the year — but the Tigers will have more than enough juice at the wide receiver position. Moss’ 52 receptions, 877 yards and 10 touchdowns will be spread out among a contingent of receivers. 

Sinkfield — an all-region selection as a wide receiver last season — is one of those players whose opportunity will benefit from Moss’ absence. The big play wideout finished with 34 catches for 724 yards and 10 touchdowns and will look to have an even bigger impact this year as a senior. 

Rising-senior Malikih Poythress will also see his role expand on offense and figures to start opposite of Sinkfield. Poythress missed a handful of games last season but was still able to register 22 catches and 451 yards in nine games of action.

“He’s probably the best blocker at the position that we have,” Glisson said. “He is a big body wide receiver, and we like what we have seen from him this summer. He is one of the top dogs in our wide receiver room.”

The Tigers will also welcome the return of Noah Dixon — a four star senior safety — who missed the entirety of Troup’s playoff run last season. Dixon provides another weapon for Todd to throw to and finished last season with 18 catches, 248 yards and three touchdowns despite being primarily a defensive player.

Senior Brayden Atcherson and juniors Jayland Reed and Tyreon Smith will provide depth at the position. 



Qua Birdsong, a four star linebacker, will also serve as one of the two tight ends for the Tigers. He finished last year with seven catches for 44 yards and two touchdowns.

“We will move him around, and he will play tight end but we may move him out to wide receiver as well,” Glisson said. “You can really mix and match with him and find the right matchups, and we will have some plays built in for him.”

Ben Taylor, a senior defensive lineman, will also see time on offense at tight end. 

“He’s a 6’4 240 lb. tight end,”Glisson said. “He brings something different than what Qua does.”

Taylor is mainly used as a blocking tight end but finished last season with one catch for three yards. 

Junior defensive lineman Jayce Haywood could also see some game time at tight end depending on personnel packages. 

“I think those three will provide us with some really good options at tight end for us,” Glisson said. 



Isaiah Hall, a senior and starting left tackle, will be the leader amongst the offensive line. Recently named a captain, Hall has already received Division I offers from the likes of Southern Illinois and Alabama State and could improve his stock further with a big final season as a Tiger. Hall was named to the all-region first team as a junior.

Steven Davis, another senior, will start at guard and is also a leader for the team. He is one of the team’s captains and has played a lot of football for the Tigers over the years. 

Sophomore Wade England has stepped up this offseason and won the starting center position.

“He has really stepped up, and he took away a job from an older guy,” Glisson said. “Right now, he is penciled in as our starting center.”

Jeremy Patrick, a senior, has played a ton of snaps over the years for the Tigers and figures to get the other starting guard spot. Junior Jatorian Blackmon will start at the right tackle position. 

“This is the first time in my coaching career that we have brought back all five starters,” Glisson said. “We have a lot of continuity upfront, and I believe they will be one of the strengths of our team.”

Junior Amarius Perdue started last season and will provide quality depth for this year’s team.



Birdsong is the most prominent name along the defensive line and rightfully so. The four star committed to playing at the University of Central Florida after high school but has unfinished business with the Tigers first. Birdsong terrorized opposing offensive lines last season and led the team with 12.5 tackles for a loss and 49 tackles despite playing in only 11 of the 14 games this season.

“Qua can do pretty much anything we ask him to do,” Glisson said. 

Senior Dorian Brooks missed all of last season with an ACL injury. Glisson said he would have been a starter last year as a junior and will likely be one of the starters along the line this year.

Perdue started on the offensive line last year but is in line to earn a starting role on the defensive line this year. 

Taylor will be a key figure on the defensive line as well. He finished last season with 33 tackles and 4.5 tackles for a loss. Charles Davis will also play a key role as the senior finished with 27 tackles and 3.5 tackles for a loss last year. 

“We have a lot of depth on the defensive line,” Glisson said. “We are deep on the defensive line, and we believe it will be a real strength of the team. We have a lot of veterans.”

Hall, the team’s starting left tackle, can also play along the line and will provide depth if the team needs another body. He registered five tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss as a junior. Tyler Leslie will also play some at defensive end when he is not in at linebacker. 



Seniors Fannin, Mitchell and Leslie look to have three of the starting linebacker spots locked down. The trio were pivotal figures on last seasons’ defense. Fannin and Leslie finished tied for third on the team in tackles (43) despite Leslie playing in just nine of 14 games. Leslie was also second on the team in tackles for a loss (5.5). Mitchell was sixth on the team with 37 tackles.

Senior Elijah Mathis and Tyreon Smith will provide depth at linebacker. They combined for 15 tackles a season ago. 

“These guys will be in and out,” Glisson said. “With these five guys, we feel comfortable about what we have at linebacker.”



The secondary will be led by senior Clemson commit Noah Dixon. The safety missed the final four games of the 2022 season but still finished fifth on the team with 40 tackles. Despite the missed time, Dixon was named to the all-region first team as well as the honorable mention list for all-state.

“He is going to Clemson in December, so we are hoping to send him from here after having a good playoff run,” Glisson said.

The secondary will be one of the only parts of the team that has significant turnover. The team lost region 4-AAAA athlete of the year Qua Moss as well as CJ Sands, the team’s top two cornerbacks from a season ago. The defense will also have to contend with the loss of first team all-region safety Tray Blackmon Jr. 

Logan Sinkfield played sporadically on defense a season ago, but figures to move into a starting cornerback spot as a senior. He finished last season with five tackles and an interception. 

Junior Jeremiah Hoard is in line to start at the other cornerback spot. Ashton Williams can play some cornerback as well. 

“I think those three guys are more than capable of locking down the cornerback spots,” Glisson said. 

Junior Jayland Reed will be Dixon’s running mate at safety. He started in Dixon’s spot last season when Dixon missed the playoff run with an injury. Reed finished with 26 total tackles last season and has looked more confident after earning some critical experience a season ago. Taeo Todd and Tyreon Smith will also provide some depth at safety 



Freshman McCarty Harrelson and sophomore Braidyn Patrick are competing for the kicker spot. Ben Taylor and Taeo Todd are competing for the punter position. The long snapper will be Taylor, who started last season, if he does not win put punting duties. Jeremy Patrick will serve in the role if Taylor is the punter. 



Davis Moncus was a star at Long Cane Middle School last season and figures to the only freshman that could see extensive playing time this year. He could see some game time at wide receiver or safety as the two-way player can get it done all over the field.