Heavyweight showdown: No. 3 Troup and no. 4 Callaway will battle it out at Callaway Stadium

Published 8:05 am Friday, September 1, 2023

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Heavyweights will collide on Friday night at Callaway Stadium as the no. 4 Callaway Cavaliers take on the no. 3 Troup Tigers. 

“The good thing for both programs is that it is a non-region game with a lot hype that should be really competitive and help both program make a deep run later in the playoffs,” Troup coach Tanner Glisson said. 

Friday will be the 14th chapter in this now iconic rivalry in Troup County. Callaway leads the all-time series 7-6, but the Tigers got the better of the Cavaliers last season, winning 23-14.

Both teams are coming into the game coming off impressive starts to the season. 

Troup has dismantled Harris County and Hardaway in its opening two games and has yet to be challenged this season. That will change on Friday night.

“No disrespect to our first two opponents, but they didn’t challenge us the way that we will be challenged on Friday night,” Glisson said. There is a little bit of an unknown how we will respond when adversity hits.”

The Cavaliers got one of their most impressive wins this side of their state title in 2020 when they beat reigning 4A state runner-ups Cedartown in their opening game of the season, 27-10.

“They were very impressive last week,” Glisson said. “Callaway has been solid for many, many years. 

“You put on the film and see that Callaway is very consistent year after year. They will come into this game with a lot of confidence.” 

It was sweet relief for the Cavaliers, who got dismantled on the road at Cedartown last season. 

Callaway lost its first three games last season, but the team has put down a statement of intent early in 2023. 

Callaway will have its hands full as they take on two of the top four teams from 4A last season in back-to-back weeks.

The Troup defense has only allowed seven points through eight quarters of football with the caveat that those points allowed came with backups in during garbage time against Harris County in week one. 

The Tigers defense will have to face an offense with a few new wrinkles in it. 

Callaway offensive coordinator Zach Giddens used a two quarterback system to great effect in week one. Starter DeShun Coleman went 9-for-14 for 197 yards while adding 81 yards on the ground to go along with two touchdowns. 

Blake Harrington played in some big moments as well, throwing for 38 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 56 as well. 

The two quarterbacks combined for over 80% of the Cavaliers rushing yards in their first game.

“Those two guys are real team players,” Callaway coach Pete Wiggins said after the game. “Both of them are very competitive and both of them bring different to the table to help make us a better football team.”

The Cavaliers, of course, will not be the only team with dynamic quarterback play in the game. 

Taeo Todd has throw for 331 yards and ran for 120 yards while totalling five touchdowns so far this season despite resting most of the second half of both games. 

“Keeping him healthy is tremendously important,” Glisson said. “These (non-region) games are not the big picture for us, so we don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket this early in the season.”

The Cavaliers defense will also have to be mindful of do-it-all playmaker Logan Sinkfield, who is the team’s leading receiver (117 yards) and the second-leading rusher (60 yards). 

“This year he has a much better grip on ou offense and a better understanding of what we are asking him to do,” Glisson said. 

Sinkfield is also a major factor at cornerback on defense. 

The Cavaliers were able to stretch out the Bulldogs defense in their opening game with a deep passing attack but may not have that some luxury in this game as Clemson commit Noah Dixon will be patrolling the back end of the defense will UCF commit Qua Birdsong attacks the quarterback up front.

Travon Reeves went off in week one for Callaway, catching six passes for 126 yards. He was not alone as Cam Tucker took two catches for 84 yards and a touchdown while Treyonn Tucker caught three balls for 25 yards and a touchdown.

Tucker took the first offensive play for Callaway in its opening game 80 yards to the house on an inch-perfect pass from Coleman.

“We have guys that can fly when you get the ball in their hands, and he is one of them,” Wiggins said after the game. “It was a great play call by coach Giddens, and it was even better execution in a big moment.”

The Dusty Hubbard led Cavalier defense was equally impressive as the offense in their opening game. Callaway pitched a shutout in the second half to give the Cavaliers the victory.

“Those guys were playing fast and physical all night,” Wiggins said after last Friday’s game. “There were a lot guys that made plays on defense tonight.”

Kickoff is set for 7:30 at Callaway Stadium.