Rivals Troup and LaGrange meet Friday for biggest showdown in over a decade

The LaGrange Grangers and the Troup Tigers will rekindle their historic rivalry in what will be one of the most anticipated showdowns between the programs in over a decade. Despite, both teams having winning records neither team is ranked in the top 10 of the 4A class, but things could change depending on the winner of this game and both programs are trending towards being contenders in this year’s playoffs. The Grangers have a 6-2 overall record and a 5-1 region record, while the Tigers have a 4-3 overall record and a 4-1 region record this year. The Grangers have had a very good season thus far under first year Head Coach Matt Napier. Napier was previously the offensive coordinator at Callaway High School before taking over the head coaching job at LaGrange.

In just Napier’s first season, the Grangers are in great position to make the tournament and possibly make a run for the state title. This year’s team is the best the team has looked in 11 years, the last time they had a winning record. Napier has quickly turned this team around—especially on offense where they are averaging 35.9 ppg this season after posting just 7 ppg over the previous three years. Coach Napier commented on how he’s been able to have this instant success this year as a first time head coach.

“Well I have to thank our administration for believing in my vision and giving us tremendous support,” said Napier. “I’ve been blessed to inherit great coaches on the staff that were already here and also been giving a great opportunity to bring in some other great coaches to come join our staff. Our kids have really bought in and have played and executed really well from the start. It’s also helped with how our players have bought into our offensive and defensive philosophy.”

The Grangers also have a dynamic and balanced offense attack that features their own version of a big three that is spearheaded by quarterback Jaylan Brown, running back Kale Gibbs, and wide receiver Tae Snead. Each of these players has played a huge role in the Grangers offense being as explosive and fluent as they possibly can be. According to Coach Napier all three of these guys are huge to how they execute on offense.

“Jaylan is a sophomore and has extremely high football knowledge and has done a good job performing our offense the way we like it to be,” said Napier. “Kale is a tough kid, leader, and a hard worker and has been very outstanding for us on the ground. We also have some great athletes at the receiver position like Tae who go out there and just gives it there all. These guys all function very well together and it’s why we’ve been successful on offense.”

On the defensive side of the ball the Grangers will have to be prepared for what the Tigers and new freshman quarterback Taeo Todd will bring in this game. The Tigers offense attack could cause problems for the Grangers defense—especially with Todd’s knack for breaking open explosive plays with his elite running ability. According to coach Napier, he believes that in order for the Grangers to stand strong on defense they have to tackle well, execute and pursuit to the ball.

“This is a game where mistakes will be made, but we have to execute in stopping the run and we will have our hands full I can tell you that.” Napier said.

He also briefly gave his thoughts on Troup freshman quarterback Taeo Todd and how impactful he’s been.

“Their quarterback Taeo Todd is one of the best upcoming football players I’ve ever seen,” said Napier. “He’s a phenom of an athlete. I’ve lived here in Troup County for over 20 years and he’s something special for sure. Anyone who’s lives here will tell you the same thing.”

The Troup Tigers have had a very unique start to the season thus far. The Tigers started off losing their first three games and since they made the decision to start Todd they have been on a four-game winning streak. Only a 14-year-old, it’s debatable on if Todd has saved the season for the Tigers giving them what seems to be at this point the best chance to win. A victory against LaGrange Friday would bring even more attention to how good this young quarterback is.

According to Troup head coach Tanner Glisson, Todd is going to be one of the best quarterbacks to ever come through Troup High School. Glisson also spoke about the spark Todd has given this team during the win streak.

“Well Taeo has come in and he’s played really hard,” said Glisson. “He’s a leader, but he’s a quiet leader and even though he doesn’t say too much he leads by example with his play and the rest of the guys really love him. He’s a dynamic player and he’s one of the best quarterbacks that we’ve seen ever come through here and he’s progressed very well. Also his Dad also played at this school, so I guess it’s in his genes.”

So far this year, Todd has thrown for five touchdowns and has rushed for seven. Over the past four games, Todd has run for a little over 900 yards. As a freshman he can only improve from year to year and the expectations for this young guy are going to be pretty high if this play and development continues. Coach Glisson also talked about expectations and pressure for his quarterback as the years go on.

“What we want to do because he’s still a young player is not put too much pressure on him.” said Glisson. “Through the four games he’s played he hasn’t turned the ball over at all and that’s just phenomenal. We expect him to get better know from year to year, but right now we just want him to do the little things right.”

Glisson also shared what he felt about his team’s opponent tomorrow night in the Grangers and what this rivalry means and how the tough matchup could lead to a won by tough defense and execution.

“Well you know it’s a tough rivalry game and we’ve beaten them over the last four years and we’re the only coaching staff ever at Troup to do so,” said Glisson. “You know every game we’ve played against these guys has been real tough and tight scoring so were looking forward to facing those guys again tomorrow night.”

Friday’s game looks like it could be an entertaining shootout with two young teams that have both been on a positive trajectory this season. Both teams have potent offenses that can put up points and gain yards either in the pass or run game. Defensively it might just come down to which team can get few stops here and there or maybe cause a turnover or two. If this game plays out this way, the big three of LaGrange and the athletically-gifted Todd could all end up having big nights. A game like this is what Georgia High School Football is all about and it will be as close to a playoff atmosphere as you could get in a Week 11 region showdown.


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