By Kevin Eckleberry firstname.lastname@example.org
August 26, 2014
It could be a big turnover, a key defensive stop, or a game-changing offensive play that makes the difference Friday night when Troup and LaGrange face off.
Or, it just might be a kick returns that tilts the balance one way or another.
Troup’s Hunter Mowers will be deep to receive kicks Friday night, and that’s a role he embraces.
“I love being in the return game,” Mowers said. “So much can happen. The whole game can turn off it.”
Mowers said while you always want to gain as many yards as possible on returns, it’s also critical to make sure not to give the ball away.
“You have to be smart with the ball,” Mowers said.
Mowers will not only be a return man Friday night, he’ll also be a key part of Troup’s secondary.
Considering LaGrange isn’t likely to put the ball in the air all that often, Mowers said he and the other defensive backs have been working hard to help slow down the running game.
“We’ve been practicing for two weeks preparing for them running downhill, filling in spots where we should,” Mowers said. “We’re ready.”
SPECIAL DEDICATION: Troup is heading into a new season without one of its biggest supporters.
Gary Ward, a long-time coach at Troup High, died in June.
Ward graduated from Troup in 1973, and after college, he returned home and was a coach at Troup for decades.
Ward coached numerous sports at Troup, and he was a regular fixture at sporting events at the school.
Defensive back Vanquez Bonner said the players have decided to honor Ward during Friday’s game against LaGrange.
“We just decided to dedicate the game to coach Ward,” Bonner said. “It’s so weird not having him.”
Ward’s son, Dustin Ward, is an assistant coach on the Troup staff.
SENIOR LEADERS: This will be the final season for a number of Troup seniors, and offensive lineman Jason Hernandez said it’s a tight group.
The players came into the program as freshmen, and the Tigers made it to the second round of the state playoffs under head coach Charles Flowers.
After Flowers left and Lynn Kendall took over, the Tigers had a losing season in 2012, but they bounced back to make the state playoffs a year ago.
Now, the seniors are ready for their final go-around.
“Sticking to the end gives you the big gift at the end,” Hernandez said. “And just because we’ve been here for all four years, we know what each other is thinking. We have that chemistry. It’s been great for us. We’ve been best friends since we were freshmen, and now we’ve made it to the end. It feels like we can go all the way.”
Kendall, now in his third season as Troup’s head coach, said the seniors are “a close-knit group, they really are. They have good chemistry. They pull for one another.”
“Everybody likes to say you’re like a family,” Kendall added. “That group right there, there’s a lot of truth to that. They can get on each other, and learn from it, and take it the right way.”