They’ve turned the page.
The Troup Tigers opened the season in style with a 36-14 victory over LaGrange in a game where they were up 36-0 at the half.
As soon as that game ended, though, the Tigers turned their attention to this week’s opponent, the Northgate Vikings.
Northgate also opened its season in nice fashion with a 35-22 win over Shaw.
When the clock reaches zero Friday night, either Troup or Northgate will have back-to-back wins to begin the season.
While wins are nice, Troup head coach Lynn Kendall said the main goal is to keep getting better.
“You look at the (LaGrange) game, and you watch the film, and you see all the things you need to improve on,” Kendall said. “That’s the goal is to keep improving. You definitely want to win football games, but you need to keep improving in these five non-region games. I’m sure all the people in the region are saying the same thing.”
The Tigers will head into the Northgate game minus one of their top weapons.
Senior running back Dre Towns broke his leg during the LaGrange game, and he’ll likely be out for the season.
Without Towns, the Tigers will rely on the other running backs to carry the load, including Dexter Shealey and Mess Bonner, as well as a host of other talented backs.
It helps that the Tigers have a veteran offensive line, as well as three-year starter in quarterback Will Smith.
“We’ve got several other backs that need to step it up, and this is their opportunity to continue to improve,” Kendall said. “And it’s another way of honoring the efforts of Dre. I know he would want them to do that.”
Kendall said he has been encouraged by the way the team has drawn closer following the loss of Towns.
“They as a group really pull for each other,” Kendall said. “It’s fun to be around that group right now. They challenge each other, they pull for each other. They hold each other accountable. I really like that.”
That offense put five touchdowns on the board in the first half against LaGrange, with Towns scoring four of them, and Shealey also had a touchdown.
The Tigers had outstanding field position in the first half thanks to a stingy defense that forced two turnovers and didn’t allow a first down after the game’s opening possession.
Linebacker Austin Carter had an interception in the first quarter to set up a touchdown, and the Tigers were off and running.
“I thought the line played a very good game,” Kendall said. “They came off the ball well, sustained blocks, did all the things you ask a line to do. The backs ran hard. You look at it from an offensive standpoint, and they did a great job.”
Kendall added that “the defense allowed us to play with a short field. You couldn’t ask for anything more than that.”
Kendall said he was pleased with the way the players dealt with the all of the hype association with such a big game.
It was not only the Tigers’ season opener, but they were also facing their biggest rival.
“There’s a lot of fun, and a lot of hype. It’s hard for the players to not get caught up in that,” Kendall said. “They have a job to do. I think we handled that very well. I think that says a lot about the developing maturity we have as a team. We’re headed in the right direction.”
Northgate kicked off its season in impressive fashion as well.
The Vikings churned out nearly 300 rushing yards, and Kevin Teasley and Ton Evans each ran for more than 100 yards.
“They run the ball like we do, and they’ll throw it some, too,” Kendall said.
Defensively, Kendall said Northgate will stack the line of scrimmage.
“Their defense is solid,” Kendall said. “It’s an eight-man front style defense, and they do well with it.”
Northgate’s defensive coordinator is Bubba Jeter, a Troup High graduate who had two separate stints as the Troup head coach.
Northgate’s head coach, meanwhile, is Tommy Walburn, who was the Troup head coach from 2001 to 2005.
“We’ll line up and both teams will get after each other,” Kendall said. “They’re going to be ready. They’re going to be a very good team. They’re well-coached, disciplined. They’ll definitely be prepared for us. It’ll be another challenge for us. It’s a AAAAA program. It’s a quality program.”
TROUP VS. NORTHGATE
WHEN: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
LAST WEEK: Troup beat LaGrange 36-14, Northgate beat Shaw 35-22
OF NOTE: This is the first meeting between Troup and Northgate