Road Warriors: Troup set for first road game of the season on Thursday night

Published 10:15 am Wednesday, August 23, 2023

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The Troup football team is set for a Thursday night showdown with Hardaway this week. It will be a rare Thursday night game on the road for the Tigers, their first since taking on Kendrick in 2020.

“Going on the road on Thursday night is always difficult,” Troup coach Tanner Glisson said. “We will be good to play, but we have to have a sense of urgency with a short week of preparation.”

The two teams are coming off very different week one performances. Troup dismantled rivals Harris County 31-7 while Hardaway lost to crosstown rivals Carver (Columbus) 47-6. 

The Tigers have owned this match since their first meeting in 1998, going 8-4, including 3-2 in the Glisson era.

Troup has won two in a row over Hardaway. The 2021 matchup was an instant overtime classic while the 2022 game was one-sided with the Tigers winning 49-21.

This year’s version of the Hawks will be a bit different than years past. Hardaway is now led by first-year head coach Ryan McKenzie, who only had one previous year of coaching experience before taking the job at Hardaway, serving as head coach of Chattahoochee County in 2022.

“They are always a physical team, and they have a new coach this year that is trying to set a new tone for them and have that program heading in the direction it needs to head,” Glisson said. 

The Hawks are coming off a difficult season in which they went 2-8 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2017. As they still search for their first victory under McKenzie, the Tigers plan to keep on rolling.

Senior quarterback Taeo Todd kept his momentum from last season rolling into this one with his performance against Harris County in week one. After an early interception, Todd settled in and threw for 240 yards and two touchdowns while running for 35 yards and two touchdowns. 

“I probably led us astray a little but, because I don’t like to run Taeo much early in the season,” Glisson said. “We want to preserve his legs for the long haul, but I probably pushed the envelope a little too much on that to our offensive coaches.” 

Todd had a strong connection with Clemson commit Noah Dixon. Dixon usually makes his bread and butter at safety on defense but caught four passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns. 

The Tigers wide receiving corps was in sync on Friday. Logan Sinkfield has four catches for 48 yards while Tryeon Smith registered two catches for 50 yards. 

Senior Bradyen Atcherson came out of nowhere to impress, catching three passes for 53 yards.

“If you would have walked in there and said that Atcherson would be the guy on Friday night, not many people would have believed you,” Glisson said. “Atcherson was the right man at the right time, and he prepares hard every day at practice.

“He is one of those guys that has waited around three years for a chance and has really taken full advantage of the opportunity.” 

Javari Fannin was one of the many players that had an impact on both sides of the ball. He recovered a fumble and finished with five tackles while also running for 35 yards. 

“He is the straw that stirs the drink,” Glisson said. “He is a really good high school football player, and he can play practically any position on the field.”

The entire defense was stellar for the Tigers last Friday. The team practically pitched a shutout outside of a garbage time score from Harris County once Troup inserted some reserves.

Qua Birdsong led the Tigers in tackles with nine, but it was Amarius Perdue who came away with defensive player of the game.

“He made a lot of improvement from last week’s performance in the scrimmage,” Glisson said. “Some of the things he did on Friday didn’t show up in the stat sheet. He forced Harris County to make some hard reads and forced them to play left handed a little bit.”

Troup (1-0) will be looking to start the season 2-0 for the second consecutive year when they take on Hardaway at Memorial Stadium at 7 p.m. on Thursday.