LAGRANGE – With one victory under their belts, the Troup Tigers will try to put together a winning streak this week.
Troup (1-1), coming off a 38-12 home win over Kendrick last week, will be back at Callaway Stadium on Friday for a showdown with Bowdon.
If the Tigers prevail, they will have won two straight games for the first time since the opening two weeks of the 2014 season.
Bowdon, meanwhile, began its season with a 20-14 win over arch-rival Bremen last week.
“You can kind of see this thing moving a little bit,” Troup head coach Tanner Glisson said. “We’re excited about this game. They won a big rivalry game, and we won. It’s about to get fun.”
After a 21-14 loss to Hardaway to begin the season, Troup was impressive in its home debut last week.
Kendrick did hit on a pair of long touchdown runs in the third quarter, but otherwise the game was dominated by Troup, which has matched its win total from a year ago.
While pleased with his team’s performance last week, Glisson said the effort will have to be even better against a formidable Bowdon squad.
“We have to play better than we have the first two games, because they’re the best team we’ve seen so far,” Glisson said.
Bowdon was in the state quarterfinals as recently as 2013, and it reached the second round of the state playoffs a year ago under first-year head coach Robert Andrews.
“They just have so much tradition,” Glisson said. “They know how to win.”
For Troup, there hasn’t been a whole lot of winning of late.
Before last week’s win over Kendrick, Troup had dropped 15 of 16 games overall dating back to the 2014 season.
Glisson did feel things began to turn around late in the 2015 season when Troup hung tough in a loss to Carrollton, and it followed that up with a 37-35 loss to Fayette County before ending the season with a 28-0 win over Whitewater.
After a productive offseason, Troup rallied in the fourth quarter before falling short against Hardaway in the season opener, and it then blew out Kendrick, so things are definitely trending in a positive direction.
“We feel pretty good about where we are, and the kids are hungry,” Glisson said.
Glisson said there is still plenty of work to do before the team is where it needs to be, though.
“We’re not going to go from A all the way to Z,” Glisson said. “There will be times where we take a step back, and have to re-evaluate and keep going. We’ll have to stop off at G and S and everything else. But we hit rock bottom last year, but since that Carrollton game it has been (going up).”
Glisson said one thing last year’s experience did was help the players learn to deal with difficult times, because there were plenty of them.
“Last year helped us with the adversity,” Glisson said. “There’s not a whole lot you can throw at us right now that we can’t handle adversity-wise. Right now, it’s about cleaning up some mistakes.”
There wasn’t a whole lot of adversity in last week’s game.
Troup led 24-0 at the half, and while Kendrick did score touchdowns on its first two possessions of the third quarter, the outcome was never in doubt.
Junior quarterback Montez Crowe threw two touchdown passes to Kobe Hudson and one to Ken Truitt, and Camren Rusell had a pair of scoring runs.
Troup’s offensive line, which has been rebuilt following the loss of a lot of seniors from last year’s team, had a solid night.
Seth Adams continues to progress at center after making the move to that position for the season opener.
“He’s a former linebacker, so he’s only been a center for 2 1/2 weeks,” Glisson said.
Keshawn Cameron, Brandon Barronton, Colby Harry and Ethan Short round out the offensive line, and Glisson said that group wil get better as they spend more time together.
“We just need to get some continuity and keep them in the same places,” Glisson said. “Hopefully now we can stay healthy and they can grow.”
On defense, Troup didn’t give up any extended drives, although it did allow a handful of big plays.
“We had about three plays against Kendrick that looked bad,” Glisson said.
It’s an inexperienced group, with most of the defensive players getting their first taste of significant varsity playing time.
“Our defensive staff with (Micah) Alba, and (Tripp) Busby, and (Tori) Smith and J.C. Copeland, they’ve taken a terrible defense from last year and at least made it average. That’s a big step,” Glisson said. “And we still have a long way to go. We have eight sophomores out there and one freshman. But it’s getting better. And they really got after it this week in practice. That was good to see.”
A bright spot so far has been the performance of the special-teams units led by junior place-kicker and punter Carson Wreyford, who has been outstanding.
“Our special teams continue to be really, really good,” Glisson said. “We’re averaging about 35 yards on the kickoff returns. We are averaging 38 yards net punting. We haven’t had one blocked. The biggest punt return has been seven yards. We did give up one kickoff return where he got outside of our containment. We’re 1-for-1 on field goals, and we’re 100 percent on PATs. So that part has been really good.”
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports