Troup (1-4, 1-1 Region 5-AAAA) suffered some tough-luck losses in the non-region schedule, dropping a three-point game at Redan, a seven-point contest against Newnan and a 28-7 decision to county rival Callaway. The Tigers’ lone region setback was a 48-10 loss last week to No. 1 Sandy Creek.
Outside of the Redan loss, Troup’s other three setbacks came against teams with a combined record of 13-2, and Teague said the Tigers are among the five teams in the region that he considers to have a legitimate shot at earning one of the four playoff spots.
“They’ve played a good front end. They probably shouldn’t have lost that first game that they lost, but they’ve lost to some good people. Newnan, they were in a position to win that game and lost it 21-14. Callaway, that’s a big rivalry. From what I saw on film, they just made some mistakes that they shouldn’t have that turned the tide. And Sandy Creek is just a couple of notches above the rest of the class probably in AAAA except for maybe one or two teams and they were playing them 14-10 with a few minutes left in the half and [Sandy Creek] kind of knocked it open,” Teague said.
No. 5 Carrollton (3-2, 2-0) has seen its region schedule get progressively tougher by the week after picking up lopsided wins against Columbus and Fayette County to get started. Teague preached that his starters will need to be prepared to play all four quarters tonight.
“It’s big for us because four of the next five teams that we play are the ones that we consider to be the playoff contenders with us. So every one is extremely important, as far as that playoff positioning goes,” Teague said. “This one’s a big one. I consider Troup definitely a playoff contender. They’ve got so much experience coming back from last year, so we’re going to have to play a complete game against a good, quality opponent.”
And even though the Tigers experienced a tumultuous offseason that saw former coach Charles Flowers get dismissed and several of the program’s top players jump ship — including Auburn University commit and one of the nation’s top linebackers, Reuben Foster — Teague said first-year coach Lynn Kendall has done a solid job shoring things up. The Trojan coach said the Tigers are actually much more fundamentally-sound this year.
“Watching them on film, they seem to be probably better coached than last year, if you want to know the truth,” Teague said. “They are not stumbling and bumbling on offense at all. I mean, they’re handling the football and not turning it over. They’re not getting a bunch of crazy penalties like they did last year. Kicking game-wise, last year they had the kicker that could turn the field on you, so they’re not quite as good in the kicking department.”
Carrollton senior fullback Dan Harris noted that he and his teammates are expecting another tough tussle with the Tigers tonight, one they can ill-afford to lose and be where they want to be at the end of the regular season.
“We need to win. If not, just like coach Teague said, it’s going to be an uphill battle for three or four weeks just to get into the playoffs. But just to touch on [Friday], it’s going to be a real tough game against Troup County. They’ve got a really good defense, a really good offense. So it’s going to be a real big test for us,” Harris said.
And as the Trojans continue to get healthier, they’ll look to solidify their place as a playoff squad in the coming weeks with home games against Troup, Shaw and Alexander, respectively, before closing out the regular season on the road at Sandy Creek and LaGrange.
“Yeah, playing three in a row at home right here, I really consider this week and next week as the big push for the playoffs. If we win these next two games, we’re going to knock us down at least a playoff berth — and that’s what we wanted to do coming into this year being so young. So to get to do that at home, it’s a better routine for us. We’re much more comfortable here. We’ve got the home crowd to get us excited. From that standpoint, it’s exciting to be at home,” Teague said.